Elders push for rangers
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.”