File photo of a dead dugong.
File photo of a dead dugong. Tegan Annett

Men to pay $17,000 for killing turtles and dugong in park

TWO men have been penalised more than $17,000 for taking two green turtles and one dugong within the Great Sandy Marine Park.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the men were sentenced earlier this week after being charged with one offence each of taking protected animals under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.

 

TURTLE RESCUE: It took about 10 people a quarter of an hour to rescue this green turtle after it was stranded upside down in mangroves on Lady Musgrave Island at the end of January. These are stills from the video which was posted on You Tube.
File photos of a green turtle Gillian Thomas

"One man was fined $1000 and ordered to pay $7,798.50 for the conservation value of the animals. The other man was fined $500 and was also ordered to pay $7,798.50 for the conservation value of the animals," Ms Enoch said.

After receiving information from concerned members of the public, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers approached the two men, and two other people, on October 7, 2016 and found the dead turtles and dugong in the men's boat.

 

PRECIOUS CREATURE: 39 dugongs were recorded drowned in shark nets in Queensland from 1989 to 2011.
File photo of a dugong. Contributed

The men admitted to hunting the animals and claimed they were killed for 'tribal ceremony' reasons.

The men also claimed that permission had been granted to them by local Aboriginal elders.

Investigations by the Queensland Government, assisted by Butchulla traditional owners, revealed the men did not have the right to take the animals from the area.

Ms Enoch said turtles and dugongs are protected species under Queensland's Nature Conservation Act 1992 and the Department of Environment and Science will take strong enforcement action against people who fail to comply with nature conservation laws.

 

Dugongs are among the animals that rely on seagrasses.
File photo of a dugong. Contributed

"Depending on the number of protected species unlawfully taken, an individual can face a penalty of up to $365 700 or two years' imprisonment.

"Traditional Owners have hunting rights on their own Country in accordance with Australian Government's Native Title Act 1993 but this does not apply to everyone and in this instance the taking of the animals was unlawful.

"DES respects that dugongs and turtles have important cultural and social values for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people living in coastal areas," Ms Enoch said.

Two other people are due to face court n the near future.

 

The dead dugong found in the Seaforth area. Contributed
File photo of a dead dugong. Contributed