Last month I suggested about 1,000 dugongs are killed each year in northern Australian waters and that this is too many. Today, ABC Online is quoting fisherman Peter Manning suggesting a figure of 1,600 dugongs. Mr Manning says all Australians should be concerned about the impact of Indigenous hunting on dugong stocks.
Read more from Peter Manning here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/02/06/2155453.htm
My blog post of January 21, 2008, can be found here: http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/002704.html
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Looks like not much reaction Jen. Pity.
Probably not enough discussion in the national media on an ongoing basis ! Not in the national consciousness as a potential issue.
Helen Mahar says
I noticed in some of the respondent’s to the ABC news article attacked the messenger, claimingthat as a fisherman, Peter Manning had a vested interest in highlighting indigenous killto downgrade net deaths. This sort of emotive partisanship does not help the dugongs.
This nastiness also cautions those of us who use their names on blogs, live alongside an aboriginal community, and allow indigenous hunting on their land, about making frank comments.
Dugongs are a long way from my patch, so I will only make general comments. First, a good survey of numbers is needed, along with good figures about the numbers, sex and ages, acutally caught by all parties.
I still hold that it should be possible to partly control the catch by applying motorised boat / weapons regulations, and a humane code of conduct – as is currently required of landowners with permit to destroy nuisance native species.
This would not interfere with the traditional right to hunt as such. But it would put some controls on the use of non traditional technology, which, after all gives gives the hunters non traditional advantages in the hunt.
By the way, I support the use of modern weapons, as their use makes it easier to kill quickly and humanely.
Helen despite some cries of racism on the ABC blog I thought the discussion was quite robust and thoughtful.
Traditional hunting practices can be quite cruel by modern standards and use of rifles make dispatching the quarry much quicker, but technology including motorised boats make the whole process much easier.
These unique animals need a decent monitoring program with an emphasis on long term sustainability. The sooner we have some decent population dyanmics data the better.
Helen Mahar says
About what is needed for Dugongs, Luke, we seem to be in agreement.
However, whatever “sustainable” management plan is eventually adopted, I doubt that the political process will allow complete over-riding of indigenous right to hunt.
This right will have to be accommodated, without compromising dugong sustainability. Tough one.
John V K says
When I was in the army years and years ago.
It was an unwritten rule that indigenous could go walkabout, but they went as native, no shoes and only traditional dress plus they must have chest scars to show manhood. Otherwise it was AWOL (my specialty I had trouble counting, especially on amount of leave)
Funny how the easy parts of culture can be demanded or updated with modern technologies. If the dugongs are in danger then something should be done. Simple. Jen and others have often made discussion on sustainability which really can only be the point of any amelioration on culture, but this argument if twisted to say fire stick hunting with bush fires everyone would go ape mad..
Same debate as whales, I guess. I’m not a hunter myself, I can understand the cultural debate having had hunter mates in the past, but I wonder how many would want to eat whale meat if they had to row a boat with 12 risk mad individuals and kill it with a harpoon and row the thing back.
Me I reckon it’s consumerism if you use modern technology and all too easy.
I reckon it should be in the past, this is not costumes or a language this really is endangering a species.
Indigenous ok Japanese and Norway wrong, double standards abound.
I understand the humane argument too, but the argument should be sustainablility first then culture.
Agree count the things.
Oh no I might be agreeing with Luke…… Bwaah.
Real traditional whaling:
I was interviewed on the issue late this afternoon and might be on ABC Lateline TV tonight … at 10.30pm.
Yep, highly entertaining. No accurate dugong numbers for Australian waters, but last I heard there is no current accurate assessment for Antarctic minkes either, unless you go by JARPA (even more entertaining). Interesting your take on ‘humane’ too, as the footage flicks across the screen showing a whale writhing with a harpoon poorly placed through its upper body. But then is there much difference between pinning an insect to a board and skewering a cockroach of the sea? Funny too how Flannery is worthy of quoting here. One minute he has no experience with climate change and is lambasted, but here his veiws on minke numbers and commercial whaling are believable, even though he is no marine mammalogist. But then it seems the world is full of self-proclaimed experts.
Next we will be told the Customs officers didn’t actually see two whales in close association being harpooned and dragged up the slipway, they were just one very BIG female and one very SMALL female. Oh, we are already being told that, yeah right.
Ann Novek says
Off topic, but the Norwegian whaling quota was set yesterday: 1052 minke whales
Ann Novek says
Norway plans to kill 1052 minke whales.
Norway has set its whaling quota for 2008 at 1052 minke whales.
The quota was the same as in 2007, and included 97 whales that were not caught during the whaling seasons 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007, Norway’s Fisheries Ministry said.
The ministry said 900 whales would be allowed to be caught in coastal areas including the North Sea, the Barents Sea and the area around Svalbard.
Hunting conditions are impacted by weather conditions as well as high fuel costs.
In recent years, whalers have often refrained from travelling to the zone around the island of Jan Mayen, north-east of Iceland.
Norway resumed whaling in 1993, arguing that hunting is necessary to prevent the minke whale population from growing so large that it threatens fish stocks.
Minke whales are the smallest of the seven great whales. They are up to 11 metres long, and can weigh about 8 tons.
Helen, A good paper on the sustainable management of dugongs together with population knowledge and indigenous catch is at http://www.unep.org/dewa/reports/dugongreport.asp
This report is fairly old and what amazes me is that it carries the logos of the IUCN, UNEP etc yet it has received little publicity and the plight of the dugong seems to be ignored by Australian and other National Governments.
It’s lucky Dugongs don’t inhabit Tasmanian waters, as it would just be another issue to blame on the pulp mill.
Helen Mahar says
This is one thing I like about this blog. Contributors often drop good leads to credible information. However, this is one big paper, and to download it all now would exceed my data limit and cost me. Will do so later, as I really want to read the Australian section.
The excecutive summary is much smaller, but depressing (probably realistic). Especially this:
“Unless human values change dramatically, we belive that it will be impossible to reduce anthropogenic impacts on the dugong throughout its vast and remote range…”
The human values range from East Africa to the Pholipines, and SE Asia to Australia. Big ask.
One thing in Australia’s favour is that we probably have some of the biggest and most viable local populations, as our northern coastline is so sparsely populated.
This could be a starting point for sustainable management in Australia. But first, good data is needed. Count them.
John V K says
I saw the Late show last night Dugongs were called sea angels and people considered very lucky to see one, Jenifer someone or other was talking about them and Letterman did ask want to know what taste like..
Cobra almost got Jack Hannah.
Probably a rerun though.