2000, 24 Minutes
On Murray Island in the Torres Strait, where the historic Mabo land rights case was fought, a new battle is brewing. This time over sea rights. Its outcome could have far-reaching implications for Australia's open waters. Murray Islanders won legal title to their land. Now they want the same for their reefs, seabeds and ocean. Their future depends on it.
The Meriam people have a unique relationship to the sea. It is more than a source of food: the ocean and its creatures form the basis of their traditional spiritual beliefs, songs and dances. However, growing numbers of large-scale commercial operators plunder the sea around the island (traditionally known as Mer) in spite of a 1975 treaty to protect the traditional way of life and livelihood of its indigenous fishing people.
Murray Islanders now believe that gaining exclusive legal rights to the sea is integral to the survival of their culture.
Within a year of the 1992 High Court’s Mabo decision, the Meriam people laid claim to their traditional maritime boundaries and began chasing intruders from the waters around their island. Tension between outside and local fishing interests is now at breaking point.
Written and directed by Aven Noah, himself a Komet clansman from Murray Island, Small Island, Big Fight investigates the Meriam’s fight for the future of their island paradise.
A Film Australia National Interest Program produced in association with the National Indigenous Media Association of Australia, in association with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Commission and Junjidy's Productions Pty Ltd. Developed with the assistance of the Pacific Film and Television Commission. Produced with the assistance of the ABC. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Director: Aven S Noah
Running Time: 25 mins
Classification: Exempt from classification