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Four convicted of dugong killing

Extract from The State of Queensland (Environmental Protection Agency), on October 2004

Four people were convicted in the Brisbane District Court in October on charges related to the killing of a dugong in Moreton Bay.

Justin Kusu, his mother, Florina, his uncle, Dennis Kusu, all from the Torres Strait, and his stepfather, Anthony Williams, from Brisbane, all pleaded guilty to charges under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 of unlawfully killing a protected marine animal.

The charges relate to hunting and killing of a dugong in Moreton Bay in May 2002.

The dugong ashore.
EPA photo.

QPWS Executive Director Conservation Services, Geoff Clare, said the Court's decision confirmed an important feature of native title rights.

"None of those convicted were native title holders or claimants in Moreton Bay and they did not have a right to hunt in the area," Geoff said.

"The Court's decision also confirms that these people did not ask for and could not have obtained permission from the Quandamooka people, the traditional owners of Moreton Bay, to take the dugong."

A $600 fine was today imposed on Florina Kusu while the others were each fined $400.

A large male dugong killed in Moreton Bay
is taken in tow by QPWS vessel Teal.
EPA photo.

Geoff said the fines imposed by the Court appeared to uphold the Quandamooka people's request for leniency in sentencing and also sent a clear message to the community that unlawful killing of protected animals was not allowed.

"The principles reinforced in this case also assist the Agency in its work with traditional owners and the community to ensure the conservation of this important species.

"Dugong are listed as a vulnerable species under the Nature Conservation Act and protected under two international conventions.

"Counts made in recent years suggest the Moreton Bay dugong population could be as low as 400.

"It's vital that we look after every one of our dugong. The Brisbane area is one of the few heavily populated areas of the world that has dugong nearby."

© The State of Queensland (Environmental Protection Agency) 2004.

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