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The Hon Peter Garrett MP
Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts
Jim Turnour MP
Member for Leichhardt

Tackling illegal hunting and poaching on the Great Barrier Reef

Media release
24 March 2010

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A new Indigenous Community Compliance Liaison officer to help tackle illegal hunting and poaching in Cairns and the Cape York region was announced today by the Minister for Environment Protection, Peter Garrett, and the Federal Member for Leichhardt, Jim Turnour.

"Traditional Owner groups are concerned about the incidence of illegal hunting and poaching, particularly of marine turtle and dugong and the impact it is having on their communities and their Sea Country," Mr Garrett said.

"The Indigenous Liaison position will work closely with Traditional Owners to identify solutions and deliver practical results, building on the work already underway including through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

"Education and information exchange play an important role in giving Traditional Owners the capacity to identify and report any illegal activities taking place.

“This is something that the local MP, Jim Turnour, has been very keen to impress on me and an issue that I know he has been working actively on in his local communities. I am very pleased to recognise that contribution and his support in getting this new position in place,” Mr Garrett said.

Mr Garrett said this was an important step forward in working with communities to help ensure a sustainable future for their Sea Country and the Great Barrier Reef.

"It's about empowering communities with practical knowledge and skills. This position will support an existing knowledge base, and help Traditional Owners make a real difference for their Sea Country," he said.

Marine turtles and dugong monitoring programs, reporting sick, stranded and injured animals, and maintaining cultural heritage sites are a few examples of how Traditional Owners are playing an active role in caring for their Sea Country.

The new Indigenous Liaison position will become part of a team already working with Traditional Owners in far north Queensland on compliance and Sea Country management issues.

This initiative builds on the Australian Government’s Reef Rescue Indigenous Land and Sea Country Partnerships Program.

Reef Rescue is fundamental in supporting Traditional Owners to effectively manage their Sea Country to conserve biodiversity, protect heritage values and contribute to reducing climate change impacts and maintaining the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.

Last week a new partnership between the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the North Queensland Land Council (NQLC) commenced, with the first of four workshops in Gordonvale.

Through these workshops, to be held in Gordonvale, Yarrabah, Kuranda and Innisfail, GBRMPA and the Land Council will work together to canvass Traditional Owner interest in developing partnerships to manage sea country, including Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements.

Commonwealth of Australia