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End for Cairns commercial fishing threat to dugongs
‘Cast your net as widely as possible’: A word to law graduates:

End for Cairns commercial fishing threat to dugongs

Felicity Rourke

The last full-time commercial fishing gill net on the Great Barrier Reef has been retired by WWF-Australia in an effort to better protect dugong habitat and other threatened species.

Firms: Allens (WWF-Australia)

Deal: WWF-Australia has purchased and retired the last commercial fishing licence in the Princess Charlotte Bay region north of Cairns.

Value: Undisclosed

Area: Commercial, environment & planning

Key players: Felicity Rourke (pictured) led the pro bono team at Allens who advised WWF-Australia on the deal.

Deal significance: Both the federal and Queensland governments have special permissions for commercial fishing in the Princess Charlotte Bay region north of Cairns. The rules permitted fishing with nets in that part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park area if the fisherman were in possession of a historical commercial licence.

With the assistance of Allens, WWF-Australia was able to purchase and retire the last commercial fishing licence with funds raised from the public. This included the retirement of a 600-metre long gill net.

The commercial transaction means that the Princess Charlotte Bay has been secured as a completely net fishing-free region.

CEO for WWF-Australia, Dermot O'Gorman, said that almost 3,000 members of the community donated money to raise the six-figure sum required.

“It’s a great deal for dugongs, so we want to say thank you Allens for pro bono legal support on an unusual and novel transaction,” Mr O’Gorman said.

Allens lead partner Felicity Rourke noted that being able to assist WWF-Australia with the transaction was a rewarding experience

“Collaborating with WWF-Australia to find a creative solution to a complex problem was very rewarding for the Allens team,” Ms Rourke said.

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