Friday, 14 October 2016

Coalition urged to regulate Indigenous hunting of endangered animals

Warren Entsch tells party room dugongs and sea turtles are being subjected to cruelty and being hunted commercially

The Turnbull government is considering greater regulation of Indigenous Australians’ hunting of dugongs and sea turtles.

Malcolm Turnbull has asked the environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, to investigate serious complaints that vulnerable and endangered animals are being subjected to great cruelty by some Indigenous families and killed merely for commercial purposes, not cultural purposes.

The Coalition MP Warren Entsch raised the matter in the Coalition party room on Tuesday.

He showed the partyroom a photo – since seen by Guardian Australia – of a green sea turtle lying upside down on a beach, its flippers cut off and its breast plate removed, its innards exposed.

He told his Coalition colleagues the turtle had not been killed before it was mutilated, and it had been left to die in agony because its intestines were found to be inflamed (a sign the animal was diseased).

He referred to scores of other incidents involving dead baby dugongs and boatloads of dead sea turtles that he said were killed by Indigenous hunters. 

He said some Indigenous families were killing the animals for commercial gain and selling the meat to all parts of the country.

He called for a moratorium on the hunting of the animals in areas where they were deemed vulnerable so authorities could determine how many were left.

He said vulnerable animals should only be allowed to be eaten where they were hunted, rather than flown around the country to be sold for a profit.

Frydenberg has accepted Turnbull’s request to investigate the matter. 

“I’m an absolute supporter of native title rights for traditional hunting for ceremony and cultural reasons,” Entsch later told Guardian Australia.

“But there is a very small number of family groups that has commercialised it, so under the guise of traditional hunting they’re taking significant numbers of animals and flogging them off. 

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