For most of the 65,000 years or so of occupation in Australia, sea level has been lower than present, yet we know almost nothing about submerged landscapes and their associated cultural heritage. The key to unlocking this unknown potential is through collaborative efforts between different stakeholder and interest groups, maximizing benefits from meaningful collaboration in offshore development activity and allowing for better documentation, management, regulation and discovery of past cultural and other seabed resources.
On 13th March we held a workshop on the Deep History of Sea Country at the University of Western Australia. The Workshop was aimed at organisations and people working in marine and coastal environments including developers and operators, environmental and heritage consultants, regulators, independent scientists, indigenous groups and other stakeholders. Each of these ‘interest groups’ have different aims, perspectives and expectations, with a focus ranging from economic to ecological and heritage.
A series of presentations were given by project team members, which explored the key issues surrounding submerged cultural resources, including what we know, what we need to know and what we need to do to achieve this. Sean McNeair from Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation also gave a presentation on the Indigenous perspectives on Sea Country. Attendees were given opportunities to discuss their perspectives on data, resource management and policy related to submerged cultural landscapes in northwest Australia. These discussions were very helpful and we hope to hold another stakeholder workshop in a years’ time. If you are interested in being invited to this next workshop, please feel free to register your interest with any of the project team members.
In the meantime, we have a forthcoming paper in Ocean and Coastal Management, entitled ‘Recognition and value of submerged prehistoric landscape resources in Australia’, which explores some of these issues. A link will be added when this becomes available.