|Location:||Torres Strait, Far North Queensland|
|National priority area:||Biodiversity and natural icons
Community skills, knowledge and engagement
|Funding:||$1.33 million (2010-11 to 2012-13)|
|Partners:||Torres Strait Regional Authority
James Cook University
Turtle and Dugong Management Plans
Fifteen Torres Strait Islander communities have developed community-based Dugong and Turtle Management Plans that are tailored to their specific community's customs and environment.
The sustainability of traditional Indigenous dugong and marine turtle hunting has been a topic of much debate in recent years. The dugong and turtle populations of Torres Strait are some of the largest in the world and are an integral part of the culture and diet of Torres Strait island communities.
The conservation of dugong and marine turtles is of high importance to Torres Strait Islander communities and they have been taking action to ensure the sustainability of traditional harvest.
The Torres Strait Regional Authority, using funding from the Caring for our Country initiative, has supported 15 Torres Strait Islander communities to develop community-based Dugong and Turtle Management Plans that are tailored to their specific community's customs and environment. Each plan sets out a range of culturally appropriate hunting regulations as well as penalties for infringements.
Some management regulations are already in place to support the sustainability of the Torres Strait dugong and turtle fisheries. For example, traditional hunters are allowed the use of a whap (traditional spear) only as the method of capture, the size of a hunting vessel is restricted to less than six metres' length, and closure areas are in place to restrict dugong catch. At the community level, additional management initiatives include seasonal closures and permit restrictions.
Rangers and Dugong and Turtle Officers funded from the Working on Country Initiative have been trained in dugong and turtle catch monitoring and recording. All activities and training combines western science and traditional knowledge. Dugong and turtle catch data is recorded, kept and managed by the communities with the support of the TSRA. Catch trend information will be shared with the Protected Zone Joint Authority and government agencies.
The five-year plans will be reviewed every two years to ensure the dugong and turtle fisheries are sustainably managed and the communities are fully engaged in the management process.
Staff from Australian and Queensland Government agencies and researchers, particularly from James Cook University, have provided valuable technical and policy advice during plan reviews. Future collaboration with government agencies and research institutions will ensure that management measures are founded on the best available science and aligned with regional, state and federal obligations and objectives of dugong and turtle management. The Torres Strait Protected Zone Joint Authority has supported the plan development throughout the project since 2005.