Chal­lenge on il­le­gal poach­ing

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

THE Fed­eral Coali­tion has chal­lenged the Queens­land Gov­ern­ment to bring the full weight of the law down on dugong and turtle poach­ers in Far North Queens­land.

Fed­eral Op­po­si­tion en­vi­ron­ment spokesman Greg Hunt and Le­ich­hardt MP War­ren Entsch have asked Premier Anna Bligh to send the high-pow­ered Crime and Mis­con­duct Com­mis­sion af­ter the poach­ers.

The two Lib­eral MPs is­sued the call for “ur­gent real ac­tion” to in­ves­ti­gate “in­creas­ingly cred­i­ble re­ports of wide­spread and sys­temic poach­ing of dugongs and tur­tles” fol­low­ing mul­ti­ple re­ports of poach­ing across the Far North in the past year.

“There is in­creas­ing ev­i­dence that dugongs and tur­tles have been poached against the wishes of tra­di­tional own­ers and slaugh­tered for the sale of their meat,” the joint letter from Mr Hunt and Mr Entsch said.

Around a dozen dugongs have washed up on North Queens­land beaches, in­clud­ing Four Mile in Port Dou­glas, in the past 12 months.

Many of the dead dugongs have had scars from il­le­gal nets.

Premier Bligh said the po­lice, rather than the CMC, were the ap­pro­pri­ate authorities to in­ves­ti­gate il­le­gal hunt­ing.

“We are work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively with in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties to de­velop sus­tain­able man­age­ment plans and ad­dress il­le­gal poach­ing is­sues,” Ms Bligh said.

“We are train­ing tra­di­tional own­ers to be more vig­i­lant and pro­vide the ’eyes and ears’ to en­able us to stamp out il­le­gal poach­ing and trad­ing.”

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