The Great Barrier Reef Park is found in Australia and has the largest corals and exotic aquatic life. The park is of great ecological significance, and therefore, it calls for sustainable management and use. For this reason, the government has adopted a number of ways to protect the park, which include zoning, educating members of the public and other management techniques. These strategies have been adopted and even practiced to prevent the park from the consequences of environmental degradation (Ross & Bigge 2009).
Zoning was established in 1976 by the government through an act of parliament with an aim of protecting this park. Members of the public were not fully convinced of the park’s protecting strategy, and were a barrier to a co-management strategy, which the government intended to introduce. These zones included the no-take zone, which consisted of 5% of the entire marine park (Allen et al. 2004, p. 211). This was covered with the coral reef, which at this moment was regarded the most critical area of the park that the government had always wanted to preserve. There was a need for protecting these areas because of the process of degradation, which was caused by such practices as global warming, overharvesting and other destructive human practices. This led to the destruction of the reef and a decrease in the number of turtles, starfish, dugongs and other animals. Zoning was increased later, and by 2003, it had increased from 5% to 33%, which meant that people were relocated from these areas or their activities were interfered with (Robinson et al. 2006). However, successful research should be carried out to ascertain the benefits and costs of this process.
A number of steps were taken in order to overcome this barrier. The management discovered that the process was difficult to run and it required much coordination. Members of the team were encouraged to be innovative in order to research mechanisms, which could cause a failure of this plan and suggest the way forward. By doing this, a competition and conflict between members of the management team and other stakeholders were minimized (Anderson 1981, p. 607). There was also a need to bridge the gap between science and major established policies, which meant that adequate data were required through research, workshop committees with academic institutions, and other stakeholders. There was also a need to alter people’s perception of the whole plan because most of them, especially recreational fishers objected the creation of zones. Well-educated people were hired, an advertisement was made, and television shows, which emphasized the need to preserve these areas, were aired. Community participation was also facilitated by conducting meetings to convince the public that this was not a loss, but an opportunity. Some community members regarded the plan as a western plan and culture (Sillitoe 2002, p. 77). Meetings were conducted with members of the public being given an opportunity to air their concerns. Education forums were organized and television programs were aired aimed to educate members concerning the importance of the joint conservation process.
The main stakeholders of the Great Barrier Reef marine park were traditional authority, which was composed of the indigenous leaders of the Uluru clans, and the management of the Great Barrier Reef marine park, who were the representatives of the government. The indigenous community took the whole preservation managerial plan as alien and of no significance at all, and argued that the universe did not require to be managed by anybody (Sillitoe 2002, p.77). Therefore, they were not supposed to take part in the management of this park, which was a home for animals.
On the other hand, non-indigenous people took the whole management strategy as a sustainable plan to manage this natural resource with the locals included to reduce major conflicts between them and their environment. The government also treated indigenous people as one of the stakeholders that were supposed to benefit from this resource (Sutton 2006, p. 65).
Opportunities for non-governmental stakeholders include the community benefiting from the funds that could be obtained from the major tourist activities, which could be used to improve infrastructure, education and other community needs. Animals, such as dugongs, were used for subsistence purposes and other cultural aims; therefore, when the sustained management was not followed, these animals were on their way to extinction. Members of the indigenous community would benefit from training on modern and reliable ways of sustainable coexisting with the natural environment (McNiven & Bedingfield 2008, p. 305). They would also benefit from employment opportunities, which was a good source of income, which was more reliable for the locals.
Some major barriers hindered the success of the co-magement strategy. The knowledge of western managers differed from that of local indigenous people. Western managers had their own model of structuring things, which was composed of modern scientific approaches to natural resource management, whereas local people believed in the self-managed earth. The western tradition of animal management, which was sustainable, was also different from that of local people (Ross et al, 2011, p. 58). The cultural significance of this area for the locals required people visiting this place to be guided, and that specific areas were of religious significance. The system of management in the GBRMP was centralized, whereas that of traditional leaders was decentralized, which always created conflicts hindering the co-management of the park.
Analysis of the Old Dugong Management Plan
The dugong is one of the endangered species in the sea. It is a huge sea mammal, which feeds on plants, and closely resembles Steller’s sea cow. Some dugong species inhabit Queensland in Australia. Dugongs were fully protected by restricting any commercial activities in Australia without any official authority. The locals were allowed to hunt animals for subsistence and cultural practices (Ross et al. 2011, p. 58). The old management plan aimed at using the sustainable approach to protect those species. In 1997, the government of these states joined to come up with some measures to protect these animals. It restricted commercial fishing nets and marked out the designated areas, where the dugong lived all around the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. In addition, the government also applied various techniques, such as scare-off, increasing charges, and avoiding detonations during high tides (Robinson et al. 2006, p. 84)
The collaboration of the two governments is still effective in the current management plan to ensure the sustainability of the dugong species. The collaboration includes a wide range of departments, such as the Australian Fishery Management Plan, Sustainability, Population, and Community, the Queensland Department of Environment and Resources and others. The main role is to ensure that both the government and the community are responsible for conservation and management of dugongs by constantly reviewing the already established programs and proposing more sustainable ways. Management highlights included the implementation of the recovery plan and restrictions concerning hunting dugong inhabitants, such as licenses. On the other hand, the recovery plan addresses such issues as sea grass degradation, native hunting, accidental deaths from fishing activities and research and monitoring among others (Ross 2001, p. 66).
The community may not be in position to cooperate well with this new plan, because it almost restricts hunting by imposing so many barriers. These barriers include the complete restriction of indigenous hunting in the southern Great Barrier Reef region, reporting on dead dugongs, and hunting the dugong under the Native Title Act of 1993. The failure to recognize the indigenous knowledge can also be caused by advanced scientific knowledge of the conservation of the dugong, which fails to consider the opinions of indigenous people.
This means that the process of sustainable management of this natural resource will be hindered, because local people will feel unconcluded. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is a useful resource, which when well-managed can be beneficial for indigenous people and the government, both economically and socially.
The sustainable use of any natural resource depends on the willingness of people living around it. Indigenous societies believe that they own the land and resources. This land does require additional measures for conservation. However, the changing environment and such factors as global warming cause environmental degradation. When population increases, resources tend to decrease, and therefore, the sustained relationship with the nature is affected. Thus, modern management strategies should be put in place to assist in the management of the already degrading environment. There is always a conflict between modern and traditional management systems, which should be integrated. The community with its decentralized system should be educated on modern approaches to conservation. These have barriers because of beliefs, customs and culture of the indigenous society, hence there is the need for a co-management strategy. A degrading environment leads to some species being endangered. Dugongs are endangered in this area and need to be protected from extinction. The current management plan signed in 2007 suggested ways, in which dugong should be protected. It includes the restriction on commercial fishing and the use of standard fishing nets