AUSTRALIA and Queensland in particular are being left behind in major international efforts to save the dugong species from predicted extinction within 40 years, the state opposition claimed this week.
However, Sustainability Minister Kate Jones has accused the LNP opposition of “mock outrage” over the issue, saying the government had introduced tough new laws to protect dugong habitat.
It is an issue which has had a Cooloola Coast focus recently, in connection with the Norman Point marina proposal, which the government backs and which opponents, including Bob Irwin, say will damage water quality and the vital seagrass beds on which dugongs feed.
Ms Jones’ opposition counterpart, Glen Elmes said nations like Bahrain, Mozambique, Somalia and Vanuatu were more committed to protecting vulnerable dugong.
Mr Elmes said that while other nations were implementing conservation and management strategies to save the unique species, the government had neglected to update its plan.
“Eighteen countries, including Australia, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop plans to protect dugong and their habitats,” Mr Elmes said.
“But while Queensland legislation required The Nature Conservation (Dugong) Conservation Plan 1999 to be updated by August 31, the Minister has failed to do her homework and has sought an extension of time, effectively putting the protection of dugong on the backburner for another year.”
Mr Elmes said the habitat of Queensland dugong was under threat by development and unchecked illegal hunting.
“Today, we heard yet another dugong carcass had washed up at Yorkey’s Knob.
“This is on top of the five dead dugong found in illegal nets this year, countless numbers cruelly killed and a black market trade in their meat, fetching around $150 a kilo,” he said.