Dont forget dugongs

DUGONGS are just as important to the Fraser Coast as whales and should be better cared for, says Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland Fraser Coast president Cliff Greet.

Mr Greet says Hervey Bay has one of the highest populations of dugong in Queensland but it has been forgotten for the protection of dugongs around Moreton Bay.

He also believes there are too many dugong zones across the state and says there needs to be consistency with laws.

They are just two topics the society put to the State Government to be considered in its Marine Mammal Conservation Plan Review.

It emailed its submission to the Department of Environment and Resource Management last night, ahead of the application cut-off tonight.

The government is asking for people to put their ideas forward on how to better protect and conserve the state’s marine mammals as it reviews Queensland’s Whale and Dolphin Conservation Plan and Dugong Conservation Plan.

DERM wildlife director Nick Rigby said the reviews needed to be updated because both plans were coming up to their 10th year.

He said the reviews recognised that conservation and management of dugongs, dolphins and whales was dependent on addressing similar threats and issues.

“For example, negative interactions with marine mammals such as harassment, boat strike and entanglement affect dugongs as well as whales and dolphins,” he said. “Consequently it is important that when management prescriptions, like approach distances, go-slow areas and even the establishment of protection zones are considered, they should consider the needs of all marine mammals.”

In its submission the society argues one of the top priorities for the government should be employing more staff: “All the regulations in the world are useless without adequate enforcement and appropriate penalties,” Mr Greet said.

The society has also suggested registration concessions for boaties who fit propeller guards to protect mother and calf dugongs that swim near the water’s surface and have slow reaction times.

On top of that speed limits for water craft should be based on depth, for example five metres minimum depth for boats travelling at high speed, Mr Greet said, while public education through photo advertisements showing the injuries to marine mammals is also important.

Other recommendations include the mapping of all sea grass beds, investigating sea grass dieback and prohibiting jet skis in shallow waters.

DERM will analyse all submissions before producing a combined draft conservation program and a supporting draft management program. There will then be a final round of public consultation before they are approved.

Call for ideas

The State Government is reviewing Queensland’s Whale and Dolphin Conservation Plan and Dugong Conservation Plan.

As part of the Marine Mammal Conservation Plan Review the public is being asked for their ideas on protection, conservation and management.

A discussion paper of an overview of issues is on the Department of Environment and Resource Management website www.derm.qld.gov.au.

Submissions need to be in by close of business today and should be emailed to marine.mammals@derm.qld.gov.au

‘... negative interactions with marine mammals such as harassment, boat strike and entanglement affect dugongs as well as whales and dolphins’



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