Australia: One dugong killed a month in Far North Queensland

Daniel Bateman The Cairns Post 1 Jul 11;

ONE dugong a month has been killed in Far Northern waters, according to an official dugong death tally.

The Queensland Government has confirmed 40 of the threatened marine mammals have died over three years. While many of the animals were killed in fishing nets, many of them were reported as being killed in suspicious circumstances.

And there has only been one dugong reported killed in the region stretching between Cardwell to Cape Tribulation.

The figures come as Bob Irwin, the father of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, urged the Government to review its animal cruelty laws to stop the suffering of endangered species taken by indigenous hunters.

The environmental campaigner, who’s been asked to run for the Queensland Party at the next election, says the state has failed to stop the horrific deaths of endangered dugongs and turtles.

"Our governments are no longer concerned in regards to blatant cruelty, whether it be domestic stock or native wildlife," Mr Irwin said.

Cairns and Far Northern Environment Centre co-ordinator Steve Ryan said the latest dugong death tally was disappointing.

"It is clear that there is an unacceptable number of dugong, dolphin and turtle deaths occurring in our region," he said. "Reform of net fisheries in Queensland is long overdue...There are simply too many nets.

"Current efforts to ensure traditional hunting is carried out sustainably also remain inadequate and in need of far greater support."

A Department of Environment and Resource Management spokesman said the department was working closely with research partners, including the CSIRO and James Cook University, and others to protect dugongs.

"We continue to work ... to determine the best way to protect these animals," he said.