Emerging leaders explore the challenges facing the world’s oceans

Photo: Group shot at DPI Port Stephens Aquaculture centre.

Experts from the University of Wollongong are mentoring emerging leaders in the fields of oceans and sustainable fisheries governance with the aim of strengthening ties between Australia and Africa.

The short course, Ocean Management: Sustainable Fisheries and Governance, is part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Australia Awards program. Participants are taking part in unique, immersive experiences from Mauritius to Australia, that will build their knowledge and ultimately benefit their communities as a whole.

Now in its second year, the short course is directed by UOW’s Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS) and has fieldwork collaborations with James Cook University and the University of Mauritius. It comprises 30 participants, who spend seven weeks learning about issues related to oceans and fisheries governance, with some of the world’s most spectacular sites as their classroom.

The participants are from 11 countries all over Africa, including Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania, and Mozambique, working in fishery, aquaculture and environmental government ministries all with a role to play in enhancing governance of oceans and fisheries on the continent.

On return, the participants will have the knowledge to become agents of change and implement 12-month action plans within their specialty fields.

Over the past two weeks in Mauritius, the participants focused on issues relevant to fisheries management in Africa, including a visit to a marine park, aquaculture site, and tuna cannery. The cohort met with the Australian High Commissioner to Mauritius, Ms Jenny Dee, during their visit to the Indian Ocean nation.

They are now in Australia where they will visit sites along the East Coast, experiencing firsthand the challenges that both industry and business are facing around oceans governance.

This will include a visit to Sydney Fish Markets, aquaculture and research facilities at Port Stephens, the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority in Canberra, and Jervis Bay.

Professor Alistair McIlgorm, Capacity Development Leader at ANCORS, said the short course was an invaluable opportunity for the students to learn about the global issues facing the oceans and fisheries, and how they can work to address them.

“This is a chance for participants to gain broad coverage in key legal and governance knowledge required to improve the management of fisheries from the small-scale communities to the largest ocean,” Professor McIlgorm said.

“Taking the participants into the field enables them to see not only how Australia does things, but how they can potentially alter their governance and policy arrangements back home. Sometimes seeing is believing and the Australia Awards program values the mix of classroom and industry and stakeholder interactions.

“The program provides them with valuable context, professional development, and a chance to translate emerging Blue Economy concepts into planning and management. This knowledge can then provide the building blocks for Blue Economy development in their home countries and help the participants to drive change in fisheries management to create more sustainable industries with the associated community benefits.”

Australia Awards are prestigious international scholarships, fellowships and short courses offering the next generation of global leaders an opportunity to undertake study, research and professional development in Australia and for high-achieving Australians to do the same overseas.

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