Wednesday 24 November 2010

MP dobs in dugong and turtles poachers to police

The names and contact details of poachers illegally catching dugong and turtles in Far North Queensland have been provided to the police and other authorities by Opposition MP Glen Elmes.

Today in State Parliament Elmes will show his frustration after months of what he calls inaction by Minister Kate Jones, and will provide information about the identity of illegal poachers.

"For nearly two years, I have been a part of a campaign aided by my Federal colleagues, Greg Hunt and Warren Entsch as well as Colin Riddell and Bob Irwin, to stop the cruelty to these animals and to halt the illegal trade in their meat products," Glen Elmes says. "At every step, the four Labor Members for Cairns, Barron River, Cook and Mulgrave have ignored or belittled this campaign."

"It is only very recently that the Minister responsible went to Cairns and held a secret meeting. Nothing has been heard from her since. Overwhelmingly, everyone, indigenous and non-indigenous, wants a total moratorium on the taking of dugong and turtles until the surviving numbers are known and a sustainable take for indigenous people by traditional means for traditional purposes can be reinstated."

“Today, I have written to ministers Jones and Mulherin, the commissioners of the Queensland and Federal Police and the Chair of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and provided them with the names and addresses of two individuals who are responsible for part of the illegal poaching of dugong,” Glen Elmes said. “A small band of campaigners have been able to do what Queensland Fisheries and the 5,500 staff members of the Department of Environment and Resource Management have been unable or unwilling to do."Check Spelling

“Despite being provided with photographs, videos and the discovery of illegal dugong nets Minister Jones has continually denied the existence of the problem and has constantly demanded someone provide her with proof."

“Well Kate Jones, here are the names, here are the addresses — stop trying to sweep this under the carpet and prosecute this matter.”

Elmes said there was enormous support from indigenous and non-indigenous residents for a moratorium on hunting dugong and turtles until numbers of the species can be determined.

“The cruel and inhumane slaughter of these animals must be stopped, but once a moratorium is in place and we have established how many dugong and turtle are left, a sustainable take must be reintroduced for traditional indigenous hunting by traditional means for traditional purposes," Glen Elmes says. “However, the black market for dugong and turtle meat must be shut down. I have given the Minister and the police the means, now I expect action."

“I have asked for an urgent investigation. If that is not forthcoming, I will use the opportunity at the next Sitting of this Parliament in February to name the individuals," Elmes says.

Elmes has been motivated by a long-running campaign by Cairns-based activist Colin Riddell.

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