Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - OPINION -

Last week’s Gazette iden­ti­fied a new project, the Dou­glas Street Arts Group. This group have ap­proached the Port Dou­glas Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Net­work (PDCSN) Inc re­quest­ing fund­ing to as­sist with the mu­ral project to beau­tify the Dou­glas re­gion.

PDCSN Inc has been hold­ing funds in a com­mu­nity gar­den ac­count on be­half of the com­mu­nity for a few years now.

Due to nu­mer­ous cir­cum­stances the PDCSN was un­able to con­tinue this project to its com­ple­tion and as such held the fund­ing un­til such time as an­other or­gan­i­sa­tion could ei­ther con­tinue with a com­mu­nity gar­den or sim­i­lar ven­ture.

While the PDCSN do not ob­ject to the pro­posal by the Dou­glas Street Art Group we feel it is not our en­ti­tle­ment to make this de­ci­sion as we have only been hold­ing the fund­ing in trust for the com­mu­nity. We wish to of­fer the com­mu­nity an op­por­tu­nity to sup­port the fund­ing to be al­lo­cated to this project.

A num­ber of the or­gan­i­sa­tions who do­nated money to the com­mu­nity gar­den have sup­ported the use of this fund­ing for the Dou­glas arts project.

If there are no ob­jec­tions we will en­sure the fund­ing is trans­ferred ac­cord­ingly to the Dou­glas Street Art group. Please do not hes­i­tate to con­tact me if you re­quire fur­ther in­for­ma­tion or if you wish to state an opin­ion/ sup­port or ob­jec­tion; man­ by Fri­day 11th Novem­ber.

Siob­han Del­gado, man­ager, Port Dou­glas Neigh­bour­hood Cen­tre

At that time, the NT Gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced a crocodile man­age­ment pro­gram.

Over the years, this has be­come quite so­phis­ti­cated and it is well ex­plained on this web­site: emer­gency/com­mu­nity-safety/crocodile­cap­ture-and-man­age­ment/ar­eas­man­aged

In the NT pro­gram, when croc­o­diles pose a threat to hu­mans, they are usu­ally trapped and ei­ther re­lo­cated to a crocodile farm or de­stroyed. Trap­ping and re­lease in an­other area is deemed not use­ful due to croc­o­diles’ well known abil­ity to travel long dis­tances to re­turn to their home habi­tat.

The NT pro­gram in­cludes a well-used on­line sys­tem for the pub­lic to no­tify the gov­ern­ment of crocodile sight­ings. The depart­ment then assesses the risk of each sight­ing and posts its in­tended and com­pleted ac­tions.

Two hun­dred and ninety croc­o­diles were re­moved in 2015 and a crocodile prod­ucts busi­ness is de­vel­op­ing: http:// boost-to-croc-in­dus­try-as-croc-cap­turenum­bers-re­leased-nt/7065022

It is clear Queens­land trails the NT in crocodile risk man­age­ment. In the cur­rent Queens­land sys­tem, the EHP web­site nom­i­nates “Crocodile Ur­ban Man­age­ment Ar­eas” for Glad­stone, Mackay, Rock­hamp­ton, Cairns, Cassowary Coast and Hinchinbrook. Each of these nom­i­nates three zones:

Zone 1: pre­vent croc­o­diles en­ter­ing the area and re­move any that do

Zone 2: re­move croc­o­diles of over two me­tres in length or that show ag­gres­sive ten­den­cies Zone 3: re­move croc­o­diles of con­cern By de­fault, Dou­glas Shire is en­tirely Zone 3.

The EHP’s “Crocwatch” sys­tem al­lows no­ti­fi­ca­tion of sight­ings and these are sub clas­si­fied into “con­firmed” and “un­con­firmed”.

See: wildlife/liv­ing­with/croc­o­diles/crocwatch/ in­dex.html

In 2015 and 2016 com­bined, only two croc­o­diles have been re­moved un­der the pro­gram: one in the Townsville Ma­rina (Oc­to­ber 2016) and an­other in the Mary River (June 2015).

In 2016, Dou­glas Shire no­ti­fi­ca­tions of sight­ings have been posted for Wonga Beach, Cape Tribu­la­tion, Thala Beach, Noah Beach (Bloom­field), Four Mile Beach, Mi­rage Golf Course and the Moss­man River.

In most cases, the EHP re­sponse is to say a site sur­vey was un­der­taken and re­cent sight­ing signs de­ployed. In par­tic­u­lar, the re­sponse to the Au­gust 2016 sight­ing on Four Mile Beach was to no­tify the Surf Life­sav­ing Club to close the beach and to de­ploy re­cent sight­ing signs.

We hope the Queens­land Gov­ern­ment’s re­view of crocodile man­age­ment con­tin­ues the con­cept of “zones” but with re­freshed, and re­search­based, def­i­ni­tions. To us, the cur­rent def­i­ni­tions have weak­nesses:

• Zone 1: is it re­ally pos­si­ble to pre­vent croc­o­diles en­ter­ing an area?

• Zone 2: is there re­search to show that two me­tres is a crit­i­cal length? What is the def­i­ni­tion of “ag­gres­sive ten­den­cies?”

• Zone 3: What de­fines a “crocodile of con­cern?”

We also ap­plaud and sup­port the con­cept of EHP em­ploy­ing indige­nous rangers to as­sist with the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the re­vised sys­tem. This is very prac­ti­cal as EHP does not have the man/ woman power lo­cated within Dou­glas Shire to do this.

Clearly crocodile num­bers are in­creas­ing in the Dou­glas Shire. Boom­ing tourism with many swim­mers re­quires an en­hanced risk-man­age­ment plan – both pro­tect hu­man life and pro­tect the area’s rep­u­ta­tion as a won­der­ful and safe tourist des­ti­na­tion.

If the cur­rent zon­ing sys­tem is main­tained, we rec­om­mend that Crocodile Ur­ban Man­age­ment Ar­eas (in­clud­ing Zones 1 and 2) be es­tab­lished in the Dou­glas Shire.

We imag­ine that set­tings such as Four Mile, Newell and Wonga beaches be­ing clas­si­fied as Zone 1, Dickson’s in­let ei­ther Zone 2 or 3, and the Dain­tree River re­main­ing Zone 3 might even­tu­ate.

We be­lieve that com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion dur­ing the defin­ing of these zones will en­cour­age com­mu­nity buy-in to the process.

We also sug­gest the coun­cil be­gin an aware­ness pro­gram to en­cour­age the use of the EHP depart­ment’s no­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem.

This will pro­vide sub­stance and de­tails for these dis­cus­sions.

Dr Doug & Jude Quarry, Port Dou­glas


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