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Ancient Stones help fortify cultural revival

During community consultations in 2020 to update the Mer Working on Country Ranger Plan, Meriam Elders from Mer in the eastern Torres Strait identified Sai Arbir – the ancient art of restoring the Sai or stone fish traps as a priority project for Meriam Rangers. Sai date back many thousands of years and are an important historical and cultural landmark of Mer and other islands in Torres Strait. Historically, Sai were used year-round by Meriam Le (people from Mer) to spear fish and squid in the shallow lagoons left behind by the outgoing tide. Like the receding tide, the traditional knowledge of Sai Arbir and the use of Sai for fishing is now a waning cultural practice on Mer.

This Sai Arbir restoration project was overseen by Meriam Elders who guided the 20 community members and rangers in the correct methods and cultural protocols for restoration of the 300m long Sai at Igir over a five-day period. Meriam Rangers will continue to undertake this restoration work on the remaining 22 Sai of Mer – restoring the iconic Sai themselves and working to preserve and promote the extensive body of Indigenous knowledge that governs their use and continuing restoration and maintenance.