Tuesday, April 23, 2024

DOC ranger wins Indonesian marine study opportunity

Motueka Department of Conservation ranger, Stew Robertson, will travel to Indonesia to study local communities’ involvement in marine protected areas as the winner of the Department’s Stephen O’Dea Development Award.

The award was established in memory of Stephen O’Dea, the Field Centre Manager at Punakaiki who died along with 13 Tai Poutini Polytechnic students when the Cave Creek viewing platform collapsed on 28 April 1995.

DOC Director-General, Penny Nelson says the award provides DOC’s frontline staff with a professional development opportunity in conservation management.

“Stew has been a Marine Reserves Ranger for nearly two years and the award will enable him to travel to Indonesia to learn about marine protection in the Raja Ampat archipelago, a globally significant marine biodiversity hotspot at the heart of the Coral Triangle,” said Ms Nelson.

“Stew will look at how marine conservation organisations have worked with local communities to create and manage a large marine protected area network. It will assist our understanding on ways DOC, mana whenua iwi and local communities can best work together to protect and enhance our marine environment.”

Mr Robertson says he was inspired to visit and learn about marine protection in Raja Ampat after seeing it featured in a documentary he watched while sick with COVD-19 earlier this year.

“I dreamed about going to Raja Ampat to learn about what they do and I’m thrilled to be getting the opportunity through the Stephen O’Dea Development Award. I plan to bring back a kete of knowledge we can learn from,” he says.

“As a Marine Reserve Ranger my role includes patrolling to ensure people are complying with marine reserve rules, including not fishing, and educating people about marine reserves.

“I am especially interested in the work of local marine rangers in Raja Ampat and how their compliance effort has significantly contributed to marine life rebounding in protected areas.”

The naming of the recipient of the annual award is timed for World Ranger Day 31 July.

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