4 Jul 2010

Torres Strait ruling

6:16 am on 4 July 2010

A nine-year legal battle has ended in the largest native title sea claim in Australian history.

The Federal Court has recognised the rights and interests of Torres Strait Islanders over more than 40,000 square km of sea between the tip of Cape York in North Queensland and Papua New Guinea.

The ABC reports it's the first time the Federal Court has recognised native title rights over a vast expanse of sea.

The ruling does not give Torres Strait Islanders any exclusive rights over the sea, nor were they claimed.

Ships, fishermen and other businesses can still operate in the waters. But lawyers say the ruling means traditional owners must now be consulted when decisions are being made.