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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

11 March 2005

Call for comment on indigenous dugong and turtle harvesting

Environment and Heritage Minister Senator Ian Campbell and Fisheries and Conservation Minister Senator Ian Macdonald today invited public comment on a draft document aimed at ensuring that all traditional harvest of marine turtles and dugongs in Australia is sustainable and legal.

The draft report, Sustainable and Legal Indigenous Harvest of Marine Turtles and Dugongs in Australia - A National Approach canvasses a range of actions that governments, communities and individuals can take to ensure that traditional use is sustainable and consistent with the law.

The call for comment will be advertised in tomorrow's edition of The Australian newspaper and next week's Indigenous press.

"The Government recognises that in some areas, sustainable and legal harvesting of dugongs and turtles is an important part of local Indigenous culture," Senator Campbell said.

"However, given that dugong and turtles migrate across northern Australia, and face a range of threats including ghost nets and feral animals, we need to establish if there are areas where harvesting is occurring at unsustainable levels.

"The Marine and Coastal Committee Taskforce on Turtle and Dugong Populations, representing Australian, State and Northern Territory agencies, has been consulting informally with Indigenous communities and individuals on the development of the draft report.

"This complements other action the Australian Government has taken, including the strategic assessment of the Torres Strait turtle and dugong fishery, priority Natural Heritage Trust projects and a $3.8 million project to develop community-driven approaches to sustainable management of the species across northern Australia," he said.

Comments on the draft National Approach must be received by COB Friday 13 May 2005, and should be sent to:

Migratory and Marine Species Section
Department of the Environment and Heritage
GPO Box 787

The draft National Approach is available on the Department of the Environment and Heritage web site at:

Media Contact:
Renae Stoikos 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

Commonwealth of Australia