Turtle And Dugong Management In Cape York

Traditional Owners of Cape York Peninsula have always been active managers of marine turtle and dugong. Today they continue to maintain their culture of looking after turtle and dugongs across their traditional land and sea countries which include taking the responsibility to manage the impacts of human activity on land and sea and the animals in those environments, in a way that maintains the wellbeing of humans, animals, land and sea.  Indigenous Traditional owners currently have the right to hunt turtle and dugong but they do not have the full range of rights and resources to enable them to exercise their responsibilities to these animals, to their communities and to their sea country, which has led to a range of issues.

With support from the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities our organisation was the key Project Manager and Facilitator in the development of Cape York Turtle and Dugong Strategy in close liaison and collaboration with local authorities such as the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Traditional Owners groups, councils, consultants, educational institutions and regional organisations. To ensure the success of the development and implementation of the strategy which is aimed at the reinstatement of traditional authority through the development of sea country management plans and rules and regulations related to hunting of turtle and dugong.,  Balkanu took rigorous effort to communicate and consult with Traditional Owners of over 20 communities in Cape York and formed a taskforce to produce a Regional Plan for sustainable turtle and dugong management.

The turtle and dugong work on Cape York has included:

  • The development of Sea Country Management plans for more than 10 communities
  • Developing a legal mechanism for the reinstatement of traditional authority over sea country
  • Engagement with hunters and community members
  • Supporting the training of Indigenous people on turtle and dugong conservation management and compliance
  • Working with scientists and experts to develop sustainable turtle and dugong management
  • Providing support for turtle rehabilitation
  • Development of a fundraising strategy for turtle and dugong management

Balkanu assisted the Specialised Indigenous Ranger Program to achieve its objective to implement voluntary hunting permit systems so as to strengthen the compliance and enforce rules against illegal poaching of dugong and turtle in the Cape. Key tasks included developing systems in proper governance, engage with communities establishing steering committees, recruitment of permit officers and rangers, collaborating with local authorities and the Government.

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