'EXCITING': Gidarjil's new boat entered the water safely and was taken out for about an hour to test the engines.
'EXCITING': Gidarjil's new boat entered the water safely and was taken out for about an hour to test the engines. Mike Richards GLA150218BOAT

Gidarjil launches boat and calls for more sea rangers

WITH the launch of its first Gladstone-based vessel this morning, a Gidarjil manager said the organisation would look to increase the number of sea rangers operating from Gladstone.

After a few teething problems, Gidarjil Development Corporation staff successfully launched the Spirit of Port Curtis from the Gladstone marina at just after 9am today.

The 9m rigid hull inflatable was purchased by Gidarjil from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.


Toby Asse-Flinn  - Launch of the Spirit of Port Curtis.
Toby Asse-Flinn prepares for the launch of the Spirit of Port Curtis. Mike Richards GLA150218BOAT

Tom Osborne, sea ranger manager for Gidarjil Gladstone, said the boat would make a big difference to what Gidarjil rangers could do.

"We expect this boat will double our capacity to address marine studies, surveys, Turtle Watch and Mangrove Watch in this whole Gladstone area," he said.

"Now that we've got this boat, we will be vigorously pursuing more rangers."

A recent article published by independent not for profit media outlet The Conversation, said Queensland had only a small number of indigenous rangers relative to its size, when compared to other states like Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Mr Osborne agreed this was an issue.

"It's early days yet but we believe you would need another four or five rangers in Gladstone alone to effectively carry out the work we need to do," he said.

"Our intention is to engage as many traditional owners as we can in the sea ranger activities."

Mr Osborne said previously Gidarjil sea rangers had relied on a vessel provided by QPWS to carry out their marine monitoring activities.

"This (new boat) will give us a bit of independence," he said.

David Kopelke had put up his hand to skipper the Spirit of Port Curtis until Gidarjil rangers had completed the relevant training.

Principal of the Boyne Island Environmental Education Centre, Mr Kopelke said it was "exciting" to see the boat, which had been out of the water for about a year, launched.

"We tested everything yesterday, I definitely wouldn't be here if I wasn't confident," he said.

Mr Kopelke said the BIEEC had partnered with the Gidarjil rangers to provide educational opportunities for school students and the wider community.

The newly launched boat will give Gidarjil's sea rangers greater abilities to perform activities like turtle nest monitoring, sea grass monitoring and mangrove distribution mapping.

It will also help them ensure compliance with the local Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement regarding the taking of sea turtles, Mr Osborne said.