In considering environmental protection ongoing issues over indigenous people’s marine property rights also need resolving to limit ongoing related legislative impacts on industry and resource developments.
To achieve this the development of marine spatial plans and strategic environmental assessment of resource geography should facilitate greater public involvement in the development of a maritime Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) management framework. Indigenous rights is now a core element of environmental protection, aligning with international conventions and adoption of environmental best practice.
For instance, Marine Protected Area’s (MPA’s) allow for economic impact assessment as to their viability and the impact they have on fisheries, non-fishery resources, shipping and boating of which indigenous people may have a significant interest in or rights to. Resource use needs to incorporate valuing of the environment by all stakeholders, including those that identify themselves as indigenous. However, economic assessment of MPA’s is challenging as robust methodologies for evaluating ecosystem value (particularly non-use value) are still not viable or fully endorsed as robust.
Security of tenure for industry (a property right) over natural resources still has to occur while ensuring indigenous interests are met. However, any indigenous rights over resources also have to be weighed against the facilitation of future maritime EEZ economic development, wealth creation for all of society and valuing of the environment as part of environmental protection. Derived benefits from legislation enabling resource access and use should be for a country as a whole, although access by some indigenous people to the benefits a developed society has to offer including the ability to access and extract natural resources, remain problematic.
In this regard, the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provides some direction in overcoming such issues, including the ‘Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development’. For a country to develop a management framework for construction of a collaborative strategy that ‘unifies’ notions of environmental protection with indigenous rights more focus is needed on how the value systems of society drive policy and legislation. Industry and government will need to have due regard to Article 8 of the International Convention on Biological Diversity 1992 regarding indigenous rights, which seeks to encourage sharing of benefits derived from utilisation of knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous people.