Traditional Hunting Gets Headlines, But Is Not The Big Threat To Turtle And Dugongs


Traditional Hunting Gets Headlines, But Is Not The Big Threat To Turtles And Dugongs

Recently, bans announced on the hunting of marine turtle and dugongs have led people into believing that hunting is a major threat to these animal species from Australia.

However, science has something different on offer. While there are a lot of things being said and done towards addressing conventional hunting, the significant threats to the survival of these species generally go unnoticed.

Traditional Hunting Gets Headlines, But Is Not The Big Threat To Turtles And Dugongs
Traditional Hunting Gets Headlines But Is Not The Big Threat To Turtles And Dugongs

Sea Turtles And The Real Threat To Their Survival

Marine debris and climate change are some major threats to the survival of sea turtles on this planet. Nets abandoned or lost by fishermen have played an essential role in posing a risk to the stocks of sea turtles in Australia. Indigenous usage is also considered a major threat to populations like green turtles, hawksbill turtles, and flatback turtles. Nevertheless, in all these cases, hunting is not a major concern. What requires special consideration is egg harvest.

Additionally, commercial fishing also comes as a high risk for hawksbill turtles. These turtles have an utterly uncertain future because of the international fishing business. It is worth noting that conventional hunting of sea turtles in restricted to only green turtles in Australia.

Traditional Hunting Gets Headlines, But Is Not The Big Threat To Turtles And Dugongs
Traditional Hunting Gets Headlines But Is Not The Big Threat To Turtles And Dugongs

Hunting – Is It A Threat To The Turtle Species?

You will find green turtles and large dugongs in abundance at The Torres Strait. It has been proved through research that the islanders at this strait have long been harvesting dugongs and turtles. However, after the bans have been announced and proper monitoring measures of the strait have been put in place, there has been a decline in harvesting procedures. Also, the species have remained stable.

The situation is entirely different at the Great Barrier Reef where the dugong population is very poor. Post the cyclones and extreme floods during the summers of 2011, dugongs have stopped breeding here. Also, green turtles are increasingly breeding in Cook town instead of the Great Barrier Reef. Fortunately, recent research shows the resumption of dugong calving at the reef because of the recovery of inshore seagrass habitats.

Coordinated Measures On The Part Of The Government And The Traditional Owners

The traditional owners, being the very first managers of the coastal waters in Australia, will have significant losses from the loss of dugongs and turtles. Therefore, it makes sense for them to work in close coordination with the government to sustainably manage and protect these species. Also, long-standing fights between the tour operators and traditional owners have also been sorted out by authorized entities.

Traditional owners have now ceased from hunting dugongs and turtles in Fitzroy Island, Green Island and Michaelmas Cay. A total of 14 management policies have been put in place for managing turtle and dugong hunting in the Torres Strait. Similar agreements have also been passed between management agencies and traditional owners in the other areas of Northern Australia.

Other Measures

Also, the indigenous rangers are helping their bit in implementing the agreements and policies in close collaboration with research institutions and management agencies. The rangers offer on-ground and practical arrangements for conserving dugong and turtle species.

All in all, the different policies and agreements that have been put in place towards safeguarding dugong and turtle species in Australia are beneficial. They prove that hunting is not the only reason behind these species going extinct.

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