Gaining the power to stop illegal fishing activities
Gatha Munungurr applied to become a ranger because he wanted to protect Yolngu Country.
Ten years later, and after 8 years of study, he is now the first Dhimurru Ranger to obtain the Certificate 3 in Fisheries Compliance. This is a necessary requirement before receiving legal powers to protect the sea country. Those powers have now been conferred upon him.
‘As a Fisheries Inspector, I am trained to be on the lookout for illegal activity when I am patrolling,’ Gatha said.
‘I can question people about their fishing, and check to see that they are following the rules. If they are not doing the right thing, I know how to talk to them, gather and record evidence and do it safely. I can then report any illegal activity to the Water Police.’
A hard working and dedicated Senior Ranger in charge of 4-5 Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation Rangers, Gatha and his team manage an Indigenous Protected Area which covers 100,000 hectares of land and 450,000 hectares of sea country.
Getting this level of qualification is not easy.
‘I first did my Cert 2 training course, and then later I did my Cert 3 training course,’ Gatha said.
‘I also had to achieve some competencies within my normal work, and there were workshops where we practiced all the skills we need to do the compliance work.’
Gatha said he feels proud of his accomplishment and likes to share his knowledge with the other rangers. He would like to see more rangers trained to Fisheries Inspector level and is pleased that his efforts have inspired others.
‘There are two rangers who have done their Cert 2 so they will hopefully be Fisheries Inspectors too,’ Gatha said.
Gatha’s main duty is to supervise and work with the Rangers. They do a lot of visitor management, patrolling, marine debris work, sea country work, weeds work and burning.
‘I also work with the students in the Learning on Country program and sometimes deliver presentations and talks at conferences and events.’
The courses were run in Darwin and Katherine with some practice in Nhulunbuy when Water Police and NT Fisheries worked with the course participants.
Gatha said the trainers delivered the course very well, and understood Yolngu culture, which helped him through the course.