Torres Strait Islander conservation

Introduce the concept of caught and sold products by asking students to form small groups and identify three products they believe can be caught and sold today. Provide the groups with the below National Library historical images of pearling in the Torres Strait.

Explore the images using the following questions:

  • Can you identify pearls in these images? What can they be used for?
  • What do you think the roles of Torres Strait Islanders were at this time?
  • Consider the position of Torres Strait Islanders in the marine industry during this time period. Were they able to practice a cultural method of traditional marine management?

After students have identified pearls you may provide the following photographs of the cut pearl shells and pearl buttons.

Discuss 'button pearls' and the economic benefits they have for the Torres Strait region taking into consideration its remote geographical location.

Ask students to consider the end of the pearling industry in the Torres Strait. What benefits might this have had to Torres Strait Islander people regarding environmental management.

Introduce the above National Library photograph of three Aboriginal men with their catch of a Dugong, Turtle and Shark. Explore the image using the following questions:

  • Ask students what the purpose of their catch is (it is primarily a food source).
  • How this is different from pearling?

Ask the student groups to list or use mind maps to identify reasons for implementing management plans in the idea of continuing food sources. You may also wish to provide students a print out or use a smart screen of the Protected Zone Joint Authority (PZJA) website regarding Torres Strait Island region management plans. The website has the appropriate material to aid students in providing the appropriate answers and enable discussion around Turtle and Dugong management in the Torres Strait.

Conclude by asking a student from each group to provide a summary of the importance of Dugong and Turtle management in the Torres Strait region. At your discretion you can allow students to further discuss why commercial industries such as pearling in that time period that didn’t have a management plan can negatively affect the local environment disparate from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander management plans then and continued today for continuing sustainability.