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ISLANDERS STATMENT

All around the world, governments, financial institutions and non-governmental organizations are joining their efforts in the process of conservation and restoration of ecosystems and habitats, especially marine, to reverse the negative impact of human activity on them, however, currently efforts are not successful in mitigating the impact due to lack of business and communities support in adopting sustainable practices and the lack of practical vocational training marine field.

Fisherman communities face a glass ceiling made by the requirement to hold higher education degree for qualifying in marine biology. Not having such VET qualifications prevents such communities and especially indigenous population from becoming part of the urgent solution of sustainable marine environment also creates very high costs associated with Marine restoration projects.

Envirotech Marine conservation and restoration Vocational Education and Training programs. We will provide qualification for people living in coastal areas, specially aborigines, Islanders and members of fishing communities, to be qualified to perform marine conservation and restoration activities, cutting the need to import qualified workers to perform such activities and provides communities of lower economic standing with practical courses and units of competency that are specifically targeted to support restoration of local ecosystems, accomplished in shorter terms and associated with projects on the ground. That will bring back the fish, and the food.

Our courses support much quicker education pathway, starting from high schools, that will allow graduates to quickly enter the labour market to support activities on affected areas around the Great Barrier Reef.

The new developed Vocational Standards, and qualifications are designed to become a bridge between High Schools to Universities, and are therefore implemented as part of High School Vocational Courses that consist of small, clear, concise, practical units of competencies and skills sets, providing skills and knowledge around ecosystem restoration and the different processes that define it. They are designed to serve people that might not even graduated school; however, they do have the underwater working skills and may have the ability to articulate to higher education enrolments.

The purpose of these courses is to empower local communities to take the environmental initiative in their own hands and produce an outcome that would create a win-win situation for both the Earth and the communities that benefit from it.

Islanders not only survive from the ocean but are also connected to the sea through the cultural beliefs. Yet, they are not currently active as guardians of the seas. For example, considerable efforts and funding put in research and monitoring on the marine habitats in indigenous islands on the Great Barrier Reef, yet, the research knowledge is not being shared or used, and communities are mostly left out of these employment opportunities. The members of the indigenous island communities have been connected to the sea and the marine habitats for generations and they are ready to reclaim their roles as custodians and protectors of the marine environment. Hence, they see need and benefit in training that will allow us to participate in marine restoration and conservation effectively as professionals.

We have demonstrated that:

  • There is a clear and present need for marine habitat conservation and restoration trainings at the vocational level in all Island and coastal communities, especially amongst the indigenous people and communities that reside on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • There is a need for such training starting from early education to all islands schools systems, accompanied with hands-on project-based training, to build the capacity to restore the nature balance, and promote our community’s involvement in the protecting the sea level.
  • Our marine environment is suffering, and we are untrained with hands on skills to apply conservation and restoration practices and this course will create employment opportunities and generate environmental and community growth.

Expect that such specific vocational training will lead to a reduction of the current unemployment rate in the region and communities and will open the field of marine conservation to our youth. As we have seen, there are good job opportunities available in this field, which will benefit our people.

With reference to the recent “Land and the Sea Management Strategy for Torres Strait 2016-2036″ guiding framework, developed by the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA), our marine environment is under pressure. Further, the strategy calls for an increase in job creating and employment in the conservation area, such as by the Rangers program. However, currently, no clear pathway exists for anyone without an academic degree to be qualifies in restoring our marine environment. Particularly the restoration of our reefs, mangroves, sea grasses, to assist   the return of the fish stocks and other marine life.

Isaiah Chapter 41: Keep silence before Me, O islands, and let the peoples renew their strength; let them draw near, then let them speak; let us come near together to judgment.