Friday, March 11, 2011

I would ask all those who care for our beautiful wildlife and the environment to read this email written by Justine Seymour to Mr. Curtis Pitt,  elected Queensland State Labour Govt Member for Mulgrave in North Queensland.     
This email (below) reinforces the incompetence and total lack of responsibility of our present Governments.
I commend Justine for the action she has taken in writing to the local state government member in North Queensland!   If you would also like to write to him to express your views on the dugong situation - here is his email address:
We have, occurring in north Queensland, one of the most serious abuses of endangered dugongs and yet our governments are turning a blind eye to the problem.  No one knows how many are left in the wild.

The United Nations, in a report on the global dugong situation, said that the dugong will be extinct within 40 years.

Yet our governments continue to allow unlimited, unregulated and in my view unacceptable killing of these dugongs.

ColinWhoCares and I have been calling for a moratorium on the dugong hunting for over 12 months now.  Nothing has been done by the governments and the killing continues.  Take a look at ColinWhoCares site:

And while you're on the net please take a look at

Please sign their campaign to stop the proposed marinas being built in this near pristine dugong, turtle and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin habitat.  The development of the marinas in the Tin Can Bay area will kill the sea grass beds - which are the sole food source for the dugong. 

The Tin Can Bay area which is a part of the Great Sandy Straits have the highest density of dugong in the world.  They have already been killed off in 3 other countries around the world.

Please help save the remaining dugong populations here in Australia.
Bob Irwin
Here is Justine's letter to Curtis Pitt:
Dear Mr. Pitt, 

As the subject line of this emails states, I am writing to you on the ongoing issue of dugongs and sea turtles, specifically the abject cruelty they are subjected to. 
Now, I heard your response to the item on Channel 7 about the turtle left upside down on its back outside a house in Yarrabah, and quite frankly, I am disgusted with the INACTION on your part as well as your party, in particular Kate Jones in her role as Environment Minister. 
GBRMPA's plan along with the Queensland Government's for communities to self manage clearly is not working, otherwise we would not have this situation. There is also quite obviously - and unfortunately - no Elder respect in the communities so it needs tight Government control to make it effective. If there were Elder respect, again this would not be happening. 
I, along with thousands of people around the world (yes, this issue does have global attention) are absolutely appalled that such an act of cruelty, such as a turtle being left on its back in searing heat, such as a turtle having its flippers hacked off one by one and its belly cut open WHILST STILL ALIVE is acceptable in Queensland. 
To make this easier for you to understand - it makes no difference to the turtle whether its assailant is Indigenous or not! The pain is the same!  
I would like now to take issue with the comments made by you on your website. On your website you said (my questions/comments are interspersed with **):
"Like most people, I found it very difficult to watch the footage on Seven News earlier this week of a turtle at Yarrabah left to bake in the sun.
From my perspective, this was a case of animal cruelty. Where it occurred or why is not the point. I don’t know anyone who condones the inhumane activity like this, especially Traditional Owners."
** An unbelievable statement considering it is those very Traditional Owners who are doing this!
"While I don’t agree with every aspect of the Opposition’s proposal for changes to animal cruelty regulations, I do agree with the general principles behind it."  
** What part do you not like and why do you not  recommend the immediate implementation of it? 
"That’s why I support the work that our joint Commonwealth-State Dugong and Turtle Taskforce is doing. It has already committed to look at whether any occurrences of perceived animal cruelty during traditional hunting and gathering require tougher regulations."
** "perceived cruelty"?? What on earth does this mean? Are you suggesting the turtle was not in any way suffering? As I said, it makes no difference to the turtle whether its assailant is Indigneous or not! The pain is the same!  As far as the work that the joint Commonwealth-State Dugong and Turtle Taskforce is doing - we can see the results of that taskforce and it seems to be similar to the results of community consultation. This must be simply lip service on the Government's part as the situation is continuing and turtles and dugongs are still suffering immeasurable cruelty. 
"I understand that for this particular incident, there is a police investigation ongoing in conjunction with relevant authorities including GBRMPA (Great Barrier Reef and Marine Parks Authority)."
** But there is no LAW under which to act!!!! This is the stupidity of it! What are GBRMPA and the police going to do? The animal cruelty laws do NOT apply to Indigneous Australians, therefore the investigation will serve no purpose. We have already established that community consultation is not working. Tell me what the police and GBRMPA are going to achieve by investigating without any law under which to prosecute?
"Some people continue to make simplistic statements about what is clearly a complex issue – often as a means of scoring cheap political points or for other agendas. Making this a political issue will get us nowhere."
** It is as complicated as you make it. It is about killing an animal humanely versus an horrific, cruel and drawn out death. That is a very simple concept. I am concerned about the animals. I don't care who fixes it, I only care that it is fixed. 
"However I’m very pleased to see the Opposition in Queensland have adopted the Government’s view and is quite sensibly no longer calling for moratorium on all traditional hunting.  The one size fits all approach almost never works – particularly on a complex issue such as this one. Local solutions are what’s needed, in partnership with all stakeholders."

**This is INCORRECT and you know it. The Opposition has never stepped back from a moratorium, nor have they adopted your Government's position, which as we can see results in absolutely nothing. What hypocisy of you to mention political point scoring above and yet come out with this statement!  

Tell me Mr. Pitt exactly how many dugongs and sea turtles are left and please also give me the number which represents a sustainable (per annum) hunting quota. I already know the answer to these questions because you cannot supply the data. THERE EXISTS NO DATA! Therefore, you cannot possibly know whether a moratorium is justified or not. 

Furthermore, there is an increasing problem with the flood plume affecting sea grass which dugongs feed on and we are now dealing with the aftermath of TC Yasi. This adds yet more pressure to the existing ones, including traditional hunting as well as poaching for the illegal meat trade, making it more pertinent than ever to temporarily stop hunting so as to establish the situation and see what constitutes a sustainable take. See also the UN meda release from October 4: The relevant line here is: "Now the remaining populations of this seemingly clumsy sea mammal, commonly known as a sea cow, are at serious risk of becoming extinct within the next 40 years."  
Considering that the vast majority of the world's dugong live in Australian waters, your party's - and especially Kate Jones' - statement that dugongs are NOT in danger of becoming extinct defies all logic, ESPECIALLY when the current numbers are not known! 
Mark Baker wrote the article "Slaughter of the Innocents" for The Age in 1998 which quotes both Prof. Helene Marsh and Dr. Colin Limpus (see article: (Prof Marsh) predicts that dugongs will disappear from all areas of the world apart from far north Queensland and the Torres Strait within the next century and that this last "dugong Serengeti" will also be endangered unless an effective scheme is implemented. "The future of coastal marine mammals is extremely bleak. If we can't get our act together those species are going to go,she says. "In the Torres Strait the situation could be managed quite easily and it could be very empowering for the local people....Australia is a custodian of marine biodiversity. We have a responsibility to act."

Dr Colin Limpus, an expert on turtle conservation with the Queensland Department of Environment, estimates that about 10,000 of the migratory green turtles that nest in Australian waters are killed by fishermen each year. While most are captured in an expanding commercial trade in Indonesia and PNG, Dr Limpus reckons as many as 10,000 a year are hunted in and around the Torres Strait Peninsula Zone.
He believes this harvest is well in excess of sustainable levels for a species that takes between 30 and 50 years to mature and breeds only every five or six years. Traditional hunters - who also prey on pregnant dugongs for their foetuses and young calves - deliberately target mature female turtles for their eggs and supposedly superior meat. "Right now there are so many it's difficult for people to see the problem, but my crystal ball-gazing tells me we are losing them and we can't see it," says Dr Limpus. "I don't think we can afford to continue like this for more than, at best, another 15 or 20 years. We are hammering the hell out of them and when the crash comes it is probably going to be irretrievable." Dr Limpus is concerned at the lack of a conservation ethic among most Islanders. "They just see this as another food source that they can go and get whenever they like and that will be forever." 

Now back to your comments:
"I’m prepared to work with anyone – including those with differing political views – to make
progress on this issue. I’d urge anyone who has a genuine interest in this issue to focus on where there is already agreement– by and large we are seeking the same outcome – sustainability of these majestic creatures."
** Seeing as you are prepared to work with anyone I suggest you support the proposal to have the Animal Cruelty Act ammended. To put it bluntly - put your money where your mouth is!  
And when you say "focus on where there is agreement" what exactly do you mean? Can you please state exactly where there this agreement already exists? Agreement on what exactly and between whom? Who is not in agreement and why not? Why are you not addressing that as well? 
"Now is the time for both the State and Federal governments to work with Traditional Owner groups on compliance action, including the training of Indigenous Rangers as inspectors equipped with prosecution powers to enable us to stamp out illegal poaching and trading."
** Your Government did not even investigate the claims and complaints made about eskies full of dugong and turtle meat coming through Cairns airport on a daily basis. NOT ONE PERSON bothered to make a trip out there. On a positive note, at least you now admit there is illegal poaching and trading going on. 
"Rogue elements involved in a black market trade for their meat must be stopped and those caught should feel the full force of the law. I’d encourage anyone who can provide evidence of such activity to come forward to allow authorities to investigate."
**see above. 
Your sincerely,
Justine Seymour 

1 comment:

  1. That is one very powerful take no prisoners letter. Has Justine heard back from Curtis Pitt?