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Issue #1617      November 6, 2013

Plan to aid dugongs and turtles

The right way to hunt and respect for animals were among the key strategies of the Cape York Turtle and Dugong Regional Plan unveiled last month in Cairns by Cape York traditional owners.

The launch was a part of the Cape York Indigenous Land and Sea Management Exhibition, which included music by local performer Simone Stacey, Aboriginal dance groups and children’s activities.

Turtle and Dugong Taskforce member Robbie Deemal said the launch of the regional plan ensured Aboriginal people’s traditional rights and knowledge were respected and ensured turtle and dugong species continued to survive and thrive in far north Queensland.

Representatives from 26 clan groups across Cape York worked on the regional plan for two years to provide a sound policy framework for working and living on sea country.

“Turtle and dugong have always been an integral part of seaside people’s culture, tradition and heritage,” Mr Deemal said. “As traditional custodians and seaside people, we own the serious responsibility of caring for turtle and dugong and sea country for our communities.

“I am proud to present what I believe is a blueprint for traditional management of species precious to all Australians. At the core of the regional plan is the concept of sustainability and respect for turtle, dugong and tradition.

“Given the number of challenges that face these populations from a variety of threats such as feral pigs, boat strike, climate change and sea grass loss, we acknowledge and embrace the need for effective management to ensure that in today’s world we are managing turtle and dugong populations for our children and grandchildren.”

The plan aims to facilitate sustainable management through closures and quotas, local regulatory systems and conservation activities, amongst a host of other measures.

“The plan has involved scientists working with us so that we can combine science and traditional knowledge for best practice plans and conservation measures that are woven within it,” Mr Deemal said.

He said the next step was to ensure adequate resourcing, including the appropriate level of funding. The plan also identified scope to form partnerships with other communities working on similar issues and challenges.

“The plan also identifies important projects and the need to work with groups and our neighbours outside the Cape, such as turtle work on Raine Island (outer Great Barrier Reef), the largest green turtle nesting site in the world, supporting turtle rehabilitation and ranger groups,” he said.

“This can only be done by us, the traditional custodians, cultural knowledge holders and First Australians.”

Koori Mail

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