Girringun ranger exercise targets illegal activities on country

Published: 24/10/2014

Conducting patrols in the sky, on the land and on the sea was all in a weekend’s work for Indigenous rangers at an exercise near Townsville this month, as part of efforts to spot and report illegal activities.

The Girringun Aboriginal Rangers, who patrol the waters between Rollingstone Creek and Maria Creek, participated in a two-day training and surveillance operation hosted by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).

The Cardwell-based rangers cover nearly 7300 square kilometres of the Marine Park, including 530 kilometres of coastline, as well as large tracts of local rainforests, bushland and rivers.

GBRMPA senior compliance officer Peta Ross said the exercise at Crystal Creek enabled agency staff and rangers to share their on-ground expertise in tackling suspected illegal activities such as breaches of Marine Park zoning rules.

“While staff shared practical information on detection, surveillance, investigation and evidence collection techniques, the rangers were able to pass on their own expertise and knowledge,” said Ms Ross.

“The rangers’ local presence and their intimate knowledge of country make the team a force to be reckoned with as far as non-compliant behaviour on their country goes.”

The Girringun rangers also administer a local Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement (TUMRA), which sets out how Traditional Owner groups work with Australian and Queensland governments to manage traditional use activities in their sea country.

Girringun ranger coordinator Sean Walsh said the weekend exercise demonstrated the local compliance strength in the region.

“We’re always looking out for professional development opportunities to specialise our local compliance program,” said Mr Walsh.

“Participating in GBRMPA’s regular compliance and enforcement patrols, as well as developing our own local compliance patrols, will mean people who break the rules will be reported.

“This exercise was a resounding success and immensely beneficial to Indigenous sea country compliance and management within the Girringun TUMRA area.”

GBRMPA Indigenous compliance manager Paul Cochran said the partnership had effectively expanded the protection network for the Great Barrier Reef in providing extra eyes and ears across the water.

“The added benefit of these exercises is that it allows rangers to access the skills and knowledge of the Australian and Queensland governments’ Field Management Compliance Program,” said Mr Cochran.

The opportunity to take an aerial view of their country during the exercise also allowed rangers, elders and Traditional Owners to record sightings of the rare snubfin dolphin, as well as fish traps and burial sites, and to monitor the extent of local seagrass meadows.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Indigenous Compliance Program is funded through the Land and Sea Country Indigenous Partnerships Program supported by the Australian Government’s Reef Programme.

Name: GBRMPA media
Contact: (07) 4750 0846