Showing posts with label marine protected areas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marine protected areas. Show all posts

Friday, 13 April 2018

No wonder I don’t buy Japanese goods – including those now 100% Japanese-owned well-known Australian brands



The Strait Times, 31 March 2018:

This undated file picture released on February 7, 2008, by the Australian Customs Services shows a mother whale and her calf being dragged on board a Japanese ship after being harpooned in Antarctic waters .PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese whaling vessels returned to port on Saturday (March 31) after catching more than 300 of the mammals in the Antarctic Ocean without facing any protests by anti-whaling groups, officials said.

A fleet of five whalers set sail for the Southern Ocean in November, as Tokyo pursues its "research whaling" in defiance of global criticism….

The fleet caught 333 minke whales as planned without any interruption by anti-whaling campaigners, the Fisheries Agency said in a statement…..

Japan is a signatory to the International Whaling Commission moratorium on hunting, but exploits a loophole that allows whales to be killed for scientific research.

Tokyo says the slaughter is necessary for in-depth knowledge of whale behaviour and biology, but it makes no secret of the fact that whales killed in the hunts often end up on dinner plates.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Environmental disaster in NSW a herald of things to come given impacts of climate change are being felt in coastal communities and coastal waters



The Newscastle Herald, 1 February 2018:


THERE are fears thousands of “ravenous” kingfish that escaped a state-government jointly run fish farm off Port Stephens will devastate the marine park's wild fish population.
Up to 17,000 predatory yellowtail kingfish, used to being fed automatically, are now hunting in the marine park waters after 20,000 escaped last week from a fish-farm sea cage, described as a "fortress pen", that was destroyed in rough seas. About 3000 fish have been recaptured.
The future of the controversial joint NSW government and Tasmania-based Huon Aquaculture project, which is 18 months into a five-year research trial, is under a cloud following the loss of almost half its stock with a retail value of more than $2 million.
Conservation groups and local tourism operators described the multi-million dollar project as a “disaster” threatening the pristine marine park's delicate ecosystem.
Marine Parks’ Association chairman and whale watching tour operator Frank Future said fisheries staff “repeatedly assured” the community the pens could handle waves up to 15 metres.
According to Huon, the “fortress pens” were designed to withstand “high energy, exposed sites, frequently receiving storms swells and gale force winds”.
“The pen that had the release was mangled and now we have thousands of mature kingfish released into the wild, nothing will be safe from them,” Mr Future said.
“They are voracious feeders and from what I understand they are ravenous. Once they realise they won't get any food in the form of pellets they'll be eating anything they can find. I don't want to think about the impact on wild species.”
The commercial-scale kingfish trial at Providence Bay - the result of an existing offshore research lease being boosted to 62 hectares - includes five pens, each about 60 metres across, two that were stocked with 20,000 fish each. There is capacity for 12 sea pens in the trial......

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Reef 2050 plan to restore outstanding universal values of the Great Barrier Reef decade by decade questioned in the wake of back to-back bleaching events


On 8 December 2017 the Australian Academy of Science made a submission to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority consultation on the Coastal Ecosystems Position Statement.

This submission made the following points:

* The federal government Reef 2050 Long-term Sustainability Plan to restore the “Outstanding Universal Values” of the Great Barrier Reef decade by decade is no longer tenable following back to-back bleaching events.

* Climate change is a clear and present challenge to the ongoing health of the Great Barrier Reef.

* Almost all “historic” and “legacy” stressors to the Great Barrier Reef remain today, and most of them continue to escalate — for example, land clearing, maintenance dredging, ship anchoring, and coastal recreational fishing pressure.

* There is a need to avoid further environmental damage through better management of stressors.

* Monitoring of drivers or stressors, including so called “legacy” drivers, should be included as a subject of research and management.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

A reminder that the Government of Japan still allows its whalers to slaughter whales in the Antarctic section of the Australian Whale Sanctuary


Australian Whale Sanctuary, www.environment.gov.au
In 2015 Environmental Defenders Office ( EDO NSW) received instructions from Sea Shepherd Australia to help them obtain information from the Commonwealth Government relating to illegal whaling practices by Japanese vessels in the Southern Ocean

The resulting application was refused by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, requiring EDO NSW to press their client’s case with the Commonwealth Information Commissioner. 

In May 2017, the Information Commissioner ordered the release of the documents and this video was made public in the following November.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Castle Hill, Townsville carries the message "STOP ADANI"


A major heritage-listed landmark shows that not everyone in Townsville, Queensland, appears to be happy with becoming a mining FIFO dumping ground hub for the financially dubious multinational Adani Group ……

Castle Hill aka Cutheringa Mountain est elevation 264 metres
Image: Townsville Bulletin, 16 October 2016


Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Under Turnbull Government's new plan "38 out of 44 marine parks will be open to trawling, gillnetting and longlining, 33 will be open to mining, and 42 exposed to the construction of pipelines"



Canberra Times, 17 September 2017:
In the corridors of Parliament House that day, as I met MPs of every stripe, I felt a great sense of promise, even pride. And it seemed for a while such hope was not misplaced. In 2012, after an exhaustive scientific process and wide community consultation, Tony Burke declared a system of marine national parks, one of the biggest and best in the world, the most significant conservation gain in Australian history.
That took courage. Because it put science before politics, prudence ahead of expediency. And it was popular. But as soon as he came to power in 2013 Tony Abbott announced an immediate moratorium on these parks and instigated a review. The purpose was purely political. To delay implementation, corrode consensus and deny the science. A move straight out of the culture warrior's playbook.
After decades of forward-thinking leaders, the nation had fallen into the hands of a man whose loyalties were only to the past. It was a low moment. But Abbott's reign was as brief as it was fruitless. It was a relief to see him replaced in 2015 by a man who'd actually done things, who believed in the future. Malcolm Turnbull did not scorn science. He seemed to understand the value and fragility of our natural estate. So there was new hope the marine parks review would now be expedited and redirected towards real conservation outcomes. With coral reefs bleaching and miners pressing for even more coal ports and seabed to drill, the need for protection had only grown more urgent.
Well, that moment of promise is long gone. Turnbull's period in office has basically been a hostage drama. The bargain he made with powerbrokers rendered him captive to the party's most illiberal wing, and if his performance on climate, energy and marriage equality aren't evidence enough, last month's announcement that marine parks would be slashed beyond all recognition puts it beyond dispute.
The agents of inertia control his government. And what's worse he's looking like a hostage who's begun to identify with his captors. How else to explain his radical lurch backwards on parks? The draft management plans recently released for consultation by Josh Frydenberg don't just signify the gutting of the national system, they represent the largest removal of protection for Australian wildlife in our history. What the government is proposing is a nihilistic act of vandalism. Forty  million hectares of sanctuary will be ripped from the estate. That's like revoking every second national park on land. Under its new plan, 38 out of 44 marine parks will be open to trawling, gillnetting and longlining, 33 will be open to mining, and 42 exposed to the construction of pipelines. In total defiance of the scientific advice upon which the original system was designed, 16 marine parks will now have no sanctuary zones at all.
The science shows that partial or low-level protection simply doesn't work. What the government is putting forward will radically diminish protection of habitat. It will also undermine sustainable regional economic development. What began as a quest for excellence based on the best possible science is now so miserably degraded it's turned the greatest step forward in marine conservation into a regime that doesn't even aspire to be second-rate.
Draft management plans for Australian marine parks/reserves:
                                                                         



South-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves draft management plan

As one South Australian voter put it after reading about the Turnbull Government's intentions; FFS ! These guys are proof that there are no time machines. Otherwise someone from the future would come back and mulch the pr*cks. (quote supplied)

Voters in NSW North Coast electorates should be aware that:
* Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan supported this review and to date has never voted against his party’s position in the House of Representatives. Therefore it is highly likely that he will vote for any government bill which will reduce marine park and marine reserve protections.
*Nationals MP for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker supported this review and to date has never voted against his party’s position in the House of Representatives. Therefore it is highly likely that he will vote for any government bill which will reduce marine park and marine reserve protections.
* Labor MP for Richmond Justine Elliot does not support a reduction in marine parks and marine reserve protections.

Brief background


The Turnbull government has released draft management plans for the nation's marine parks that amount to an "unprecedented roll-back" of protections, a coalition of 25 environmental groups say.

The long-awaited draft plans were released on Friday and propose changes to the 3.3 million square kilometres of Australia's protected offshore regions expanded in 2012 by the Gillard government.

The area of marine parks open to fishing would jump to 80 per cent from 64 per cent now, if the changes were to pass through parliament, WWF-Australia said.

"This is a huge step backwards for marine protection," Richard Leck, WWF's head of oceans, said. "Australia used to be seen as a global leader in marine conservation. That will no longer be the case if these proposals are implemented."

Other proposed changes would strip Shark and Vema reefs of  marine national park status, while Osprey reef - one of the world's premier dive sites - has lost more than half its protection, Tony Burke, Labor's environment spokesman said.

"Five years ago, Labor make the second largest conservation decision in history. Today the Turnbull Government announced the largest undoing of conservation ever," Mr Burke said….

Of particular concern to the green groups is the Coral Sea Marine Park, where a substantial area previously given the maximum protection had been reduced……

Ms Grady said the government had chosen to ignore the science contained in independent reviews that backed the original zones.

"All Australians will be justifiably distressed to know that science evidence supporting an increase in protections for marine life has been thrown out the window," Darren Kindleysides, director of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

UNESCO REPORT - "Assessment: World Heritage coral reefs likely to disappear by 2100 unless CO2 emissions drastically reduce"


Excerpts from United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage Coral Reefs: A First Global Scientific Assessment, 23 June 2017:


Seventy two percent of World Heritage reef properties (21 of 29) have been exposed to severe and/or repeated heat stress during the past three years. Within the three years of the current global bleaching event (mid 2014-mid 2017), 18 World Heritage reefs (62%) were in the highest impact category (dark red) at either one or both stress levels (Table 1c,d). A further three properties were exposed to recurrent bleaching stress (red) or a single severe stress event (orange). This illustrates the dramatic impact on coral reefs during this period, which has seen three consecutive years of record global temperature (2014, 2015 and 2016), and reflects an increase in bleaching frequency from that seen in the prior decades. Only four properties (14%) escaped bleaching-level heat stress during this three-year bleaching event: Brazilian Atlantic Islands (Brazil), iSimangaliso Wetland Park (South Africa), Sanganeb Marine National Park and Dungonab Bay – Mukkawar Island Marine National Park (Sudan) and Socotra Archipelago (Yemen)…..

Coral mortality during the third global bleaching event has been among the worst ever observed, including at World Heritage reefs; e.g., Great Barrier Reef (Australia), Papahānaumokuākea (USA) and Aldabra Atoll (Seychelles)…..

Papahānaumokuākea (USA) and the Great Barrier Reef (Australia), among the most spatially vast of all World Heritage properties…..

Coral communities typically take at least 15 to 25 years to recover from mass mortality events such as destructive cyclones and mass bleaching events. If the frequency of mass mortality events increases to a point where the return time of mortality events is less than the time it takes to recover, the abundance of corals on reefs will decline. Consequently, the frequency of stress events that reached or exceeded the 4°C and 8°C-week DHW thresholds was calculated for each World Heritage reef-containing property (Table 1) to detect if the bleaching frequency exceeded the best-case rates of recovery.

This analysis showed that World Heritage properties containing coral reefs have been increasingly exposed to heat stress during recent years. Nearly half (13) of the 29 World Heritage Listed reef properties were exposed to levels of heat stress that cause coral bleaching, on average, more than twice per decade during the 1985- 2013 period

Download full report here.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

CCRAP and the Adani Group


Adani Mining Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of India's largest coal trader the Adani Group, intends to dig an enormous hole in the ground costing over $16 billion and the odd billion or two it can extract from gullible federal and state governments in Australia.

This hole known as the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project will comprise six open-cut pits and five underground mines; supported by five mine infrastructure areas, a coal handling and processing plant, a heavy industrial area, water-supply infrastructure, 189-kilometres of rail line (Adani has applied for a $1 billion loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund to build the rail link), as well as off-site infrastructure including a workers' accommodation village and airport.

All of this running roughly parallel with the Great Barrier Reef and the Abbott Point port required to ship all this coal overseas at considerable risk to fresh water security, coral sustainability and marine biodiversity.


To facilitate its aim of environmental vandalism for corporate profit the Adani Group has registered the following companies which are all currently operating out of an office tower in Eagle Street, Brisbane:

Abbot Point Operations Pty Ltd
Adani Abbot Point Company Pty Ltd
Adani Abbot Point Holding Trust
Adani Abbot Point Terminal Holdings Pty Ltd
Adani Abbot Point Terminal Pty Ltd
Adani Australia Coal Terminal Finance Company Pty Ltd
Adani Australia Coal Terminal Holdings Pty Ltd
Adani Australia Coal Terminal Pty Ltd
Adani Australia Company Pty Ltd
Adani Australia Holding Trust
Adani Minerals Pty Ltd
Adani Mining Pty Ltd
Carmichael Rail Finance Company Pty Ltd
Carmichael Rail Holdings Pty Ltd
Carmichael Rail Network Holdings Pty Ltd
Carmichael Rail Network Holdings Trust
Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd
Carmichael Rail Network Trust
Carmichael Rail Pty Ltd
Carmichael Rail Pty Ltd
Galilee Transmission Holdings Pty Ltd
Galilee Transmission Holdings Trust
Galilee Transmission Pty Ltd
Mundra Port Holding Trust
Mundra Port Holdings Pty Ltd
Mundra Port Pty Ltd

Juice Media put this mocking video together to let the Adani family and the world know what many people in this country think of this mining scheme.

Thanks to Simon Chance for this link

Published on Dec 4, 2016
The Australian Government just released this advert about the proposed Carmichael Coal Mine and it's surprisingly honest and informative. 

6 WAYS YOU CAN HELP STOP CCRAP:

1. Tell PM Malcolm Turnbull you don't want your tax dollars to be used to subsidise CCRAP: https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/gr...
2. Join GetUp!'s Fight for the Reef: https://fightforthereef.getup.org.au
3. Donate to the Wangan & Jagalingou defense fund: http://wanganjagalingou.com.au/donate
4. Follow the Wangan & Jagalingou on Facebook to keep up to date with the campaign to stop CCRAP on their lands: https://www.facebook.com/WanganandJag...
5. Find out more about the Wangain & Jagalingou traditional owners: http://wanganjagalingou.com.au
6. Share this video.
CREDITS: Written & created by Giordano. Performed by Matylda. Voice by Lucy. Thanks to Adso, Kajute, Miriam, Anthony, Adam, Benna, Damian, Dave and Dbot for helping out! Photos and Footage of Wangan & Jagalingou people used with permission from Wangan & Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council.  Please SUPPORT the Juice Media to help us make more videos: https://www.patreon.com/TheJuiceMedia

BACKGROUND

Financial Review, 6 December 2016:

Challenges:

Finance – There is a reason the Galilee Basin has been left undeveloped for the past 50 years. For a start, it's close to 500 kilometres from ports on the coast, meaning whoever is going to build the project has to outlay billions of dollars to get the project built. And the quality of the coal is not as good as others in the closer Bowen and Surat Basin.
India's Adani Group also has to find $10 billion to finance the project. There are also questions raised about whether the project is economically viable after a plunge in the coal price following the end of the coal boom. But even though the price of thermal coal has recovered to above $100 a tonne in recent months, it is less relevant because Adani is using the coal for its own power stations rather than selling to other customers. The Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis director Tim Buckley – a vocal critic of the project – says Adani's parent company is struggling with current market capitalisation of equity at $US1.1 billion, against which it has net debts of $US2.4 billion.

Environmentalists – Adani's Carmichael project has become the lightning rod for anti-fossil fuel activists and environmentalists who want to stop the building of any new coal mines in Australia. It also fits into the narrative about Australia's changing energy mix – from one dominated by coal and gas to renewable energy such as wind and solar. Environmentalists claim the extra coal exports will damage the World Heritage-protected Great Barrier Reef, although it has received environmental approval from both state and federal governments. As the Turnbull government releases its 2017 climate review this week, the argument over the Adani mega-mine also ties in with the debate about whether Australia,- which has one of the largest emissions per capita,- should be building another large coal mine that will release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Well-funded and media-savvy environmental groups have also been very effective in targeting banks about lending to the Carmichael mine. Some banks, under pressure to make sure they look like good corporate citizens, have promised not to lend to any future coal mines.

Legal activism – One of the reasons the project has been progressing at a snail's place the past seven years is because environmental and Indigenous groups have used the legal system to their advantage and challenged virtually every aspect of the project. The mining lease, environmental authority, and native title have been challenged by a range of parties, including the Australian Conservation Foundation, little-known group Coast & Country as well as Indigenous group, the Wangan and Jagalingou. They have successfully held up the project, resulting in the former Abbott government threatening to change the laws to make it harder to challenge big mining projects.

Last month, two legal challenges were thrown out of court, leaving three appeals – two before the full bench of the Federal Court over the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act and native title, and there is also a judicial review of Adani's port expansion at Abbot Point which has been brought by local residents in the Whitsundays – before the project can be given the green light.

Scandal  – The Adani Group has been plagued by allegations of corruption surrounding its projects in India. Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani is one of India's richest men, whose personal wealth was valued at $7.1 billion in 2014 by Forbes magazine. There have been allegations of environmental vandalism in relation to the development of the Port of Mundra, which is owned by Adani, as well as claims of tax evasion. Adani's Australian chief executive Jeyakumar Janakaraj has also been dragged into the scandal by failing to disclose his history running a mining company in Africa that pleaded guilty to serious economic harm. So far, none of these allegations have failed to bring down any of Adani's executives, but it adds to the controversy over the project.

UPDATE

ABC News, 21 December 2016:

Giant Indian conglomerate Adani, which plans to build one of the world's largest coal mines in Queensland's Galilee Basin, has set up a complex network of companies and trusts in Australia which are owned in one of the world's major tax havens, the Cayman Islands.

The Adani Group is also attempting to shift ownership of the existing Abbot Point coal port — which it bought for $1.8 billion — to a Singaporean company ultimately owned in the Cayman Islands.

An exhaustive search of company filings and documents across the globe has cast light on this opaque structure of ownership and control.

It has alarmed environmental activists and legal experts, who fear it could make it harder to gain compensation from Adani in the event of an environmental disaster from Adani's planned mine and port expansion on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef.

"I've been a businessman for most of my life, as well as an environmental activist, and the risks are great," said Geoff Cousins, former Optus CEO and chairman of the George Paterson advertising agency, now a board member of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

"With these kinds of approvals of big mining operations or port operations, you always get a set of conditions that the Government puts on.
"But those conditions aren't worth anything if, when something goes wrong, you try to find the company responsible and either it has no money or if it has money it's in a tax haven and you can't reach it."

It is a view echoed by David Chaikin, a professor of business law at the University of Sydney.
"The advantage of having the money in tax havens is that you are able to conceal the source of money, the use of money, and also to minimise tax," he said…..

Adani has created four companies and two trusts in Australia for the rail project.

The parent company for all these entities is Carmichael Rail and Port Singapore Holdings Pte Ltd, a company registered in Singapore where the corporate tax rate is 15 per cent.

This Singapore parent company is in turn owned by Atulya Resources Limited, a private company controlled by the Adani family and based in the Cayman Islands.

The port expansion has a similar structure: five companies and two trusts in Australia, ultimately controlled by Atulya Resources in the Cayman Islands……

Adani has created four companies and two trusts in Australia for the rail project.

The parent company for all these entities is Carmichael Rail and Port Singapore Holdings Pte Ltd, a company registered in Singapore where the corporate tax rate is 15 per cent.

This Singapore parent company is in turn owned by Atulya Resources Limited, a private company controlled by the Adani family and based in the Cayman Islands.

The port expansion has a similar structure: five companies and two trusts in Australia, ultimately controlled by Atulya Resources in the Cayman Islands.

The port expansion has a similar structure: five companies and two trusts in Australia, ultimately controlled by Atulya Resources in the Cayman Islands.

The vast expansion of the coal port planned by Adani has sparked enormous controversy.

It will involve dredging 1.1 million tonnes of spoil from the ocean near the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and poses a potential danger to the environmentally-sensitive reef, which is listed on the World Heritage Register.

Critics say the company structure set up by Adani raises serious concerns about the value of strict environmental approvals placed on the project.

Ownership of the existing Abbot Point Coal Terminal is in limbo.

Adani bought a 99-year lease over the coal port in 2011 for $1.8 billion through a company listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (AZPEZ).

That company said it "sold" the port three years ago to a Singaporean-based Adani family company "subject to regulatory and lenders approvals".

But the sale has not been completed, because of objections by the State Bank of India, which lent Adani $US800 million ($1.1 billion) for the port purchase.

In its latest filings with the Australian corporate watchdog, Adani still lists the port as being owned by the Bombay-listed company.

But ASPEZ's 2016 annual report said it had "recorded the divestment" of the port to Abbot Point Port Holdings Pte Ltd, Singapore: an entity which lists as its sole director Vinod Shantilal Adani, the brother of Guatam Adani, head of the Adani Group, and which is ultimately owned by Atulya Resources in the Cayman Islands.

Transferring ownership of the critical port infrastructure to a Caymans Islands' company "means it will be unregulated, unaccountable," Tim Buckley, director of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analytics told the ABC.

"It will be non-transparent to the Australian Government as to what is going on, who owns it, who are the directors. To me it is a matter of national security."

Companies and trusts created by Adani for the proposed Carmichael mine are ultimately owned by Adani Enterprises, a publicly-listed company in India, but the control flows via a company registered in the tax haven of Mauritius, Adani Global Ltd.

Adani Global Ltd. is based at Suite 501 St James Court, St Denis Street in Port Louis, Mauritius, and since 1998 has operated as a subsidiary of Adani Enterprises Limited which was incorporated in March 1993 as Adani Exports Ltd with the name change effected in 2007.

In October 2010 Adani's Australian subsidiary, Adani Mining Pty Ltd, made an application for approval of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project.

On 14 October 2015 the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment granted approval of 'controlled action' subject to conditions following re-consideration of project under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

In 2014 Adani and Posco had agreed to build rail line in Australia and the following year Adani signed an MoU with Australia's Woodside Energy for Energy Cooperation.

Adani media release, 25 November 2016:

Adani welcomes court decisions Adani Group today welcomed decisions by the Queensland Supreme Court to dismiss activist lead appeals against the granting of a Mining Lease and an Environmental Authority in relation to the company’s planned $21 billion coal project. The company said the decisions were further positive steps towards starting work in the September Quarter 2017 on the Carmichael Mine in central western Queensland and associated projects – a near-400km rail line and port expansion at Abbott Point. Adani said it would now examine the full decision documents and make no further comment.

Adani letter to the Indian stock exchange, excerpt, 8 December 2016:


Live Mint, 21 December 2016:

Adani Enterprises Ltd is aiming to start production at its $16 billion integrated mining project in Australia by end of 2020, after facing a four-year delay because of stiff resistance from environmental groups. 

In an interview, group chairman Gautam Adani brushed aside concerns about the group’s indebtedness and said it was looking at investment opportunities in sectors such as defence, coal conversions and water. He added that the group continues to explore opportunities in the mining sector as it looks at an integrated “pit-to-plug” strategy encompassing mines, rail and the port sector. 

The Carmichael mines in Galilee, Australia, will produce about 25 million tonnes of coal a year in fiscal 2021. The group has invested close to $4.5 billion in the first phase, Adani said. It is planning to use the coal to fuel its Mundra and Udupi power plants. 

Adani also said he sees the ports business—one of the group’s most successful ventures so far—to meet its target of setting up 200 million tonnes of cargo handling capacity by the end of 2018, two years before schedule. 

Friday, 25 November 2016

The fate of Australia's dugongs and sea turtles


The fate of Australia’s dugongs and sea turtles due to declining numbers, loss of habitat, pollution, unmonitored legal hunting and illegal poaching is once more being debated in the media.
Tropic Now, 14 November 2016:
Traditional hunting advocates say the practise represents a small component of the issues facing sea turtles and dugongs.
Pic: David Reid

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has defended traditional hunting at a graduation ceremony for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rangers in Cairns.

Native title laws allow traditional owners to hunt endangered turtles and dugongs.

Wildlife identity Bob Irwin has recently called for a moratorium on current practices but Mr Scullion says hunting isn’t the problem.

“There is evidence to demonstrate it is sustainable and there is no evidence to demonstrate it isn’t,” he says.

“Yes, there are some threats to dugongs and turtles. But none of them come from the ocean, they all come from the land and they’re all associated with degradation of habitat.”

Indigenous ranger Mick Hale runs a turtle hospital, Yuku-Baja-Muliku, with his wife, Larissa, at Archer Point more than 300 kilometres north of Cairns.

“We started about six years ago,” Mr Hale says. “It came about around the time Cyclone Larry and Cyclone Yasi decimated our seagrass beds.

“We noticed a lot of sick turtles around [with no food], so instead of letting them die we started a turtle hospital.

Traditional hunting can be sustainable, Mr Hale says.

“The biggest challenge for us is getting the public to understand that traditional hunting is the smallest percentage of mortality for turtles and dugongs,” he says.

“We’ve got environmental impacts, habitat destruction, global climate change.

“These are all massive contributors to the demise of turtle and dugong populations.”

The Hales are currently caring for three turtles - two green sea turtles and a hawksbill.

“We just do it because it’s what we do,” Ms Hale says. “We look after country and after people so that we do have a sustainable future.”

Injinoo ranger Cristo Lifu says rescuing five olive ridley sea turtles from ghost nets with fellow Cape York rangers recently was a powerful experience.

“They were stranded and stuck in a net,” Mr Lifu says.

“We rescued them but it was lucky we were there. Because if not, they would have been dead in another two or three days.

“It’s just about caring for country. Our elders looked after country before us and it’s our time now to take over.”……

The Australian, 11 November 2016:

…three federal ministers commit to talk to indigenous rangers and the Queensland state government to spearhead moves that could see more “no take’’ zones introduced in a bid to stop the vulnerable ­species being poached and traded, as revealed in The Australian last month…..

The North Australian Indig­en­ous Land and Sea Management Alliance says commerc­ia­l­isation claims have been found to be “unsubstantiated”, while envir­onmental groups point out that dugongs and turtles face far greater threats than hunting, including loss of habitat, marine debris and coastal development.

The Cairns Post, 9 August 2016:

AN indigenous leader claims a moratorium on dug­ong and turtle hunting will not work and will only push poachers further underground.

The Coalition is preparing draft legislation to provide stronger protection for the marine creatures from over-exploitation by traditional owner groups.

Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch has said he is not happy with some elements of the draft legislation and wants a blanket moratorium on the traditional take of the species.

Girringun Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Phil Rist said his group’s TUMRA (Traditional Use of Marine Resource Agreement) had ens­ured populations of turtles and dugongs along the Cassowary Coast remained sustainable for 10 years.

He said imposing a moratorium on hunting of the animals would push illegal hunting and exploitation further underground.

“TUMRAs around turtles and dugongs are the way to go,” he said.

“These are instruments for us – ourselves – to better manage our take of turtle and dug­ong on a sustainable level.

“These agreements are end­orsed by the State and Federal governments, and we have proven that they work and they work really well.”

Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre co-ordinator Jennie Gilbert supported a moratorium on turtle hunting, saying the animals definitely needed more protection in Far Northern waters.

“They have got enough threats in their lives without hunting,” she said. “We know that there’s illegal hunting and poaching going on out there.

“The numbers of green sea turtles in Far North Queensland still haven’t recovered from the mass stranding event of 2012, due to a lack of feeding grounds.”

BACKGROUND

ABC News, 27 September 2014:

The Federal Government is warning anyone involved in the illegal trade of dugong and turtle meat that they will be caught.

The Government has allocated $5 million to a dugong and turtle protection plan that involves the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Customs and Border Protection, and the Australian Crime Commission.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the Crime Commission has been given $2 million to investigate the illegal trade.

Traditional owners have given their backing to the Government's protection plan.

"They know that their good name is being used by poachers," Mr Hunt said.

"We are determined to end the illegal trafficking in dugong and turtle meat and to protect these majestic creatures."

Under the Native Title Act of 1993, Indigenous people with native title rights can hunt marine turtles and dugong for personal, domestic or non-commercial communal needs, and "in exercise and enjoyment of their native title rights and interests".

Dugong and turtle poaching has been identified as a problem in the Northern Territory and Queensland, where the animals are hunted and the meat sold illegally.

National Indigenous radio broadcaster Seith Fourmile said non-Indigenous people were also involved in the illegal trade.

"They are involved with the trading, with selling it, passing it down - some of the turtle meat has gone as far south as Sydney and Melbourne," he said. 

Australian Government Dugong and Turtle Protection Plan 2014-2017:

To enhance the protection of our iconic marine turtles and dugong in Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait, the Australian Government has committed $5.3 million over three years for delivery of a Dugong and Turtle Protection Plan under the Reef 2050 Plan and Reef Trust. The plan addresses threatening processes that impact on the long-term recovery and survival of these protected migratory species. Information about the Reef 2050 Plan and Reef Trust is available at www.environment.gov.au/marine/gbr/reef-trust

The Dugong and Turtle Protection Plan includes the following seven core elements:
       1.    $2 million for a Specialised Indigenous Ranger Programme for strengthened  enforcement and compliance and marine conservation in Queensland and the Torres Strait
The programme is being delivered by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. More information is available at www.indigenous.gov.au/news-and-media/announcements/minister-scullion-2-million-strengthen-compliance-powers-indigenous
       2.    $2 million for an Australian Crime Commission investigation into the illegal poaching, transportation and trade of turtle and dugong meat in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait
A fact sheet about the investigation by the commission’s Wildlife and Environmental Crime Team is available at
https://www.crimecommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/ Wildlife%20%26%20Environmental%20Crime%20Team%20FACTSHEET%20281114.pdf(link is external)
      3.    $700 000 for marine debris clean-up initiatives
Information about the Great Barrier Reef marine debris clean-up initiative is available at www.environment.gov.au/minister/hunt/2014/mr20141113a.html
     4.    $600 000 to support the Cairns and Fitzroy Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre
The Reef Trust will support the work of the centre to rehabilitate sick and injured turtles and return them to the marine environment.
Information about the Cairns and Fitzroy Turtle Rehabilitation Centre is available at www.saveourseaturtles.com.au/about-ctrc.html(link is external) and www.fitzroyisland.com/newsroom/meet-patients-cairns-turtle-rehabilitation-centre(link is external)
      5.    Working with Indigenous leaders to provide for traditional use and reef protection
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is working with Traditional Owners to develop Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements to provide for traditional use and deliver reef protection. This may also include voluntary no take agreements.
Information about the agreements is available at www.gbrmpa.gov.au/our-partners/traditional-owners/traditional-use-of-marine-resources-agreements(link is external)
      6.    Federal legislation tripling the penalties for poaching and illegal transportation of turtle and dugong meat
The Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2015 amends various sections of the EPBC Act and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 (Marine Park Act) to provide additional protection for turtles and dugong. The amendments triple the maximum penalties for various criminal offences related to the killing, injuring, taking, trading, keeping or moving of turtles and dugong under the EPBC Act and for criminal offences and civil penalty provisions which apply to the taking of, or injury to, turtles and dugong where they are a protected species under the Marine Park Act.
The tripling of maximum penalties does not impact on the rights of Native Title holders under the Native Title Act 1993 to hunt turtle and dugong for personal, domestic or non-commercial communal needs.
Information about the legislation is available at www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/ Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r5128
      7.    A national approach to dugong and turtle management
Refers to the nationally co-ordinated management of turtle and dugong in Australia. This includes the development of EPBC Act policy documents and guidelines such as updating the Recovery Plan for Marine Turtles of Australia 2003, Marine Turtle Referral Guidelines and policy guidelines for dugong and seagrass habitats.