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Sea Rights
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Mr Mabo has widened his original statement of claim to include two tiny quays or reefs 10 kms East of Mer Island on the northern fringe of the Great Barrier Reef. The Commonwealth is arguing that the quays are submerged and therefore fishing rights cannot be granted because they're in international waters. Evidence will be taken on that subject...

Eddie Mabo:
There is a stone fish trap that I'm claiming, and beyond that... here's a better map of it. That's the village area and, that's the stone wall which is a fish trap and beyond that I have... we have, a lagoon that I call Las Kapar and beyond that again is our home reef called Op Nor. And then, of course, there is a stretch of sea which goes out to the Great Barrier Reef, and I claim that because it has special significance as far as our cultural myths and legends go.

Islanders claim that before the arrival of Europeans they had complex rules of ownership applying to both land and sea.

Murray Island families and clans could own seabeds and reefs, even stars, wind and water.

Owners had exclusive rights to hunt in their fish traps and intrusion into another clan or family area could result in punishment by death.

The plaintiffs in the Murray Island Case are now claiming that traditional property rights entitle them to seabeds and reefs which encircle the island and include their hunting grounds on the northern areas of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Commonwealth Government which is responsible for administration of the high seas and for international fishing treaties opposes the claim to Australia's territorial waters and is the second defendant in the Murray Island case.

Jack Wailu:
When the tide... night time... when the big tide and the tide go out, and the fish they got no way to go out so they end up inside that fish trap and we always come along night time and spear them. They got nowhere to go out. They always go like on the lagoon right in the middle, Every fish always go there. Sometimes, you just walk along and pick it up and put it in baskets.
Ancient & Modern Ways
Great Barrier Reef, Mer, Murray Island, native title, reef, sea claims, sea rights, Subkaur Island
Sea Totems
Mer, Meriam culture, sacred, sea claims, sea rights, totems, tribes
Native Title After The Murray Islands
aboriginal law, Mabo judgement, Native Title Act (1993), sovereignty
Belonging To Country
aborigines, Australia, dreamtime, indigenous Australians, land ownership, land rights, sacred
Adapted To Their Continent
Australia, First Fleet, indigenous people, land use
A Sacred Landscape
aboriginal property ownership, anthropology, Australia, clans, dispossession, kinship, land ownership, religion, sacred
The Murray Islanders' Evidence
evidence, Mabo, Edward Koiki, Murray Island, plaintiffs, witnesses
Sea Claims
Federal Government, Australia, fish traps, fishing, Great Barrier Reef, Meriam culture, sacred, sea rights
Farming The Sea
fishing, Great Barrier Reef, Meriam culture, sea rights
Hierarchies Of Land Use
barbarism, colonisation, terra nullius
In Meriam Waters
fishing, Great Barrier Reef, Meriam culture, sea rights, seafarers, Torres Strait
Myths & Legends
Mer, Meriam culture, Murray Island
Performance, Art & The Sacred
Malo's laws, Malo-Bomai, Mer, Murray Island, religion, sacred
Seafarers & Food Growers
fishing, gardening, sea rights, seafarers
Something Deep Within Us
fishing, Great Barrier Reef, sacred, sea rights, seafarers
The Sea That Belongs To The Land
fish traps, fishing, Great Barrier Reef, sea rights, seafarers