El­ders push for rangers

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - PAUL MIL­TON BUT­LER

EAST­ERN Kuku Yalanji el­ders have called for com­pul­sory hunt­ing cards and fed­eral fund­ing to em­ploy in­dige­nous rangers and pay for boats to pa­trol lo­cal wa­ters and stamp out il­le­gal hunt­ing.

Fed­eral Min­is­ter for Sus­tain­abil­ity, Environment, Water, Pop­u­la­tion and Com­mu­ni­ties Tony Burke vis­ited Cooya Beach last month to an­nounce $5 mil­lion for in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties to pro­tect and man­age dugongs and tur­tles.

Un­der the pack­age, tra­di­tional own­ers will be able to ap­ply di­rectly for fed­eral fund­ing to in­crease lead­er­ship and ca­pac­ity in sea coun­try man­age­ment.

El­der Ben­nett Walker, of Cooya Beach, has called for three in­dige­nous rangers and pa­trol boats to en­force com­pul­sory hunt­ing cards.

“It is also cru­cial that we have recog­ni­tion of own­er­ship of coun­try and we are the peo­ple who are best suited to make de­ci­sions on how to pro­tect it,” Mr Walker said.

“The shared area that we have to look af­ter is from Pretty Beach to the An­nan River and we need help with money and re­sources - it is now time to just get on and do it.

“We will have put in a sub­mis­sion to get a por­tion of that $5 mil­lion which we are busy putting to­gether but the process is a lengthy one and it will still be some time be­fore we get the money.”

El­der and East­ern Kuku Yalanji cul­tural record­ing of­fi­cer Ray Pierce said re­spect was the big­gest is­sue re­gard­ing il­le­gal hunt­ing.

“We must now be al­lowed to put our stamp of ap­proval on this project and to al­low this op­por­tu­nity to help em­ploy our own peo­ple,” Mr Pierce said.

“This will let us have bet­ter eyes and ears to pro­tect our wa­ters and if any­one who has no ties to coun­try is caught hunt­ing il­le­gally, then I want to see them stand up in court and be pros­e­cuted.”

Those peo­ple want­ing an ID card for hunt­ing legally need to con­tact Mr Walker and he will or­gan­ise for them to ob­tain the card.

“We see the card as a life­time thing with maybe a five-year re­view in place but any­one who has no ties to coun­try and is caught in breach of this rule then we want to see the card taken off them and see them pros­e­cuted,” Mr Ben­nett said.

“They will need to have a very good rea­son if they are caught hunt­ing with­out the card.”

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