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Torres Strait Rangers boost region’s marine pollution response capability

  • Twenty-two Rangers completed a three-day training course on Waiben (Thursday Island) from 8-10 August which included deploying specialised oil pollution equipment stored on the island.
  • The Rangers add to the region’s extensive arsenal of equipment and trained responders should a major maritime incident occur.
  • As a result, the Torres Strait region – including outer islands of Saibai, Ugar, Masig, Poruma, Iama and Warraber – is better equipped to deal with pollution incidents in its pristine waters following oil spill response training.

Rangers from the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) have undertaken training on Waiben (Thursday Island) to boost the region’s capability in maritime incident management and pollution response.

They completed the Australasian Interservice Incident Management System(AIIMS) course, delivered by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) from 8-9 August, to gain high-level marine incident management skills tailored towards oil spill response.

The following day the rangers received practical training from Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) in deploying oil pollution response equipment stockpiled on Thursday Island.

Since a simulated multi-agency oil spill response exercise called “Exercise Torres” in 2018 highlighted extra training needs, MSQ has worked with the TSRA and AMSA to ensure the Torres Strait region has highly trained oil spill response personnel.

These personnel would be essential in mounting a rapid frontline response to any ship-sourced oil spill in this remote region until state and national responders can attend.

In the 2022/2023 financial year, 11,682 voyages were made by ships through the Torres Strait and Great Barrier Reef, overseen by both MSQ’s Reef Vessel Trfaffic Services and AMSA.

MSQ, AMSA, TSRA, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Department of Environment and Science are all signatories to the Torres Strait Training Strategy, which provides a framework to ensure coordinated and measured response to ship sourced pollution.

Since 2018 seventy-three people have been trained in basic equipment operator and shoreline responder courses to further boost skills in the region.

Quotes attributable to Torres Strait Regional Authority Chairperson Napau Pedro Stephen AM:

“The Torres Strait is the northernmost part of the Great Barrier Reef, home to vital marine life including dugong, turtle and critical marine habitat such as coral reef and sea grass meadows. Our islands are not only our homes, but biologically rich and culturally significant.

“Protecting our marine environment while ensuring the safe supply of shipped food and essentials is a priority for our communities, including the outer islands.

“Rangers have a critical role to play in our region’s oil spill response and we welcome this partnership to build local capacity and specialist skills.”

Quotes attributable to Erub Senior Ranger Barry Pau:

“Local Rangers are the eyes and ears on the islands, we can also pass the training onto other locals so we all know what to expect in an oil spill.”

Quotes attributable to Porumalgal Ranger Felisha Pearson:

“If an oil spill does happen around our area, we are trained to respond to protect our islands, reef and environment.

“We learnt about the theories, planning, how everything works and the logistics. Now we are familiar with the equipment, if an oil spill happens, we know what to do.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Cook, Cynthia Lui:

“The remote, pristine and beautiful Torres Strait region is a major shipping route for international vessels navigating to and from Queensland’s ports and can be navigationally challenging.

“It is also part of a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area declared by the International Maritime Organization.

“It is important we deploy every means at our disposal to ensure, in the event of a shipping incident, we have as many locals as possible trained to manage the incident and mount an effective response.

“Through its highly advanced Reef Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) network, Maritime Safety Queensland runs around-the-clock ship monitoring systems to keep the reef and islands safe, invests in pollution response equipment and trains personnel from all levels of government and industry in how to use it.

Quotes attributable to the Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey:

“In a region as remote as this, our investment in training local personnel could be absolutely key to mounting a rapid and effective response should a major incident occur.

“With this in mind it was heartening to see the high level of interest in attending this training.

“It can only have strengthened the region’s resilience”.

  • Torres Strait Rangers boost region's marine pollution response capability
  • Torres Strait Rangers boost region's marine pollution response capability
  • Torres Strait Rangers boost region's marine pollution response capability

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