Issue 6 - July 6, 2009 enews homee

Coast protectors head south for new skills

Robert Djorlom and Roy Winunguy trial global positioning software

By Jason McIntosh

The NT’s Indigenous Sea Rangers will be better prepared to gather evidence and assist police to prosecute illegal fishermen and polluters after completing an inaugural training program in Katherine.

They are some of the eyes and ears along the Northern Territory’s shores helping to defend and maintain Australia’s coastlines, and their tracking and intelligence skills were boosted at a course at CDU’s Katherine Rural campus.

The 21 men are from the NT’s 14 Sea Ranger groups, which operate from Wadeye in the west through to Borroloola near the Queensland border.

The delivery of this course was the first of its type in the NT and students lived at the university’s on-site accommodation.

The NT Government’s Fisheries Department and Marine Fisheries Enforcement Section of the Police co-developed the training with CDU. It was built around feedback from law enforcement and resource management agencies involved with the rangers.

The objectives of the ’09 Certificate II in Fisheries Compliance course were to provide nationally accredited training to develop skills in reporting possible fisheries offences, the process of evidence collection and to present this evidence in court.

CDU Marine Lecturer and event organiser Chris Francis said the two-week course was based around typical scenarios faced by the rangers.

“These guys deal with all sorts of situations such as spotting illegal fishing vessels, recovering ghost nets and collecting data for researchers. We looked at the steps they can take to gather robust evidence in a courtroom setting,” he said.

All the men attained their Cert II in Fisheries Compliance and returned to work last week.

Marine ranger co-ordinator for NT Fisheries and course developer Simon Xuereb said the 2009 program responded to the needs of rangers, who wanted to earn the recognition of a nationally accredited course while gaining valuable skills.

“The course helps the rangers back us up in commercial vessel seizures and compliance issues, and formalises national accredited training for the rangers,” he said.