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Media Release

Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald
Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister for the Environment

ABORIGINAL PEOPLE TAKE CONTROL OF DUGONG PROTECTION


19 February 1998

The Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment has congratulated far north Queensland Aborigines for their contribution to the protection of two threatened marine species.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, Senator Ian Macdonald, is today launching the Kuku Yalanji Management Plan for the conservation of the Green Sea Turtle and the dugong in the Mossman/Daintree area.

Senator Macdonald said that the plan is an encouraging example of pro-active management.

"Dugong populations in the southern Great Barrier Reef are at critically low levels and the government has set in place a number of measures, including Dugong Protection Areas, to restrict the fishing industry's impact," Senator Macdonald said.

"Traditional hunting also has an impact. The Kuku Yalanji people realise this and have cooperated with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and the Queensland Department of Environment in developing this plan.

"It is an example of government supported community action developing cooperative management arrangements."

Committee member, Linc Walker, agrees saying it is an historic step in the development and recognition of Aboriginal community based initiatives.

"This plan gives the community an opportunity to manage and preserve our traditional area," Mr Walker said.

"It also provides training and employment of Kuku Yalangi rangers who monitor and report on hunting practices, turtle tagging programs and seagrass monitoring programs.

"The cooperative approach in the development of the plan has helped breakdown cultural barriers and allowed for greater awareness and education in order to protect and manage our environment."

Senator Macdonald said it is also a great example of species conservation in the spirit of the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Council policy directive toward the protection of dugong.

(19 Feb)

Attention News Editors/Chiefs of Staff
Senator Macdonald will be available for interviews on site at Mossman Gorge from 10.00 to 12.00 today. He is also available by arrangement at 8.30 am at Cairns Airport. The flight is AN 7002, or at Matson Plaza at 1.00 pm. For further details phone Robert Dark on 0417 623 156 or 0747 257 209/H

Commonwealth of Australia