23 December 2016
Better protection for eastern beaches

AT LEAST 15 marine patrols will leave from Umbakumba in the next year to protect beaches and marine life at the south east of Groote Eylandt.

The first two patrols from the eastern community were done in October and the ALC’s Umbakumba rangers will continue to patrol at least every fortnight.

ALC Rangers commit to at least 30 patrols in local sea country each year.

For most of 2016 this was done with just one qualified coxswain leaving from Angurugu, until ALC Umbakumba Ranger Coordinator, Luke Radcliffe, completed his ticket recently.

Luke said doing patrols from Umbakumba would take pressure off Angurugu-based rangers.

“Previously most marine patrols were done on the north-western part of the Groote Eylandt coastline because it was more accessible from Angurugu,” Luke said. 

“From Umbakumba it is a lot less hours and distance to get to some of the far south east parts of the island, especially around Dalumba Bay, which is prime location for nets to wash up.”

Ranger Alex Ngalmi said so far the patrols by the ALC’s Umbakumba rangers had been to find and remove so called “ghost nets”, which are abandoned fishing nets that have washed up on shores.

Thousands have washed up on shores across northern Australia in the past few years, mainly from Indonesia, trapping marine life and have a devastating impact. Many enter the Gulf, move in a clockwise position and wash up on the shores in different areas.

“We keep the shores safe for animals such as dugong that might get caught and die on ghost nets,” Alex said.

“It is easy to remove the smaller ghost nets but the bigger ones, we need to take to the sand and cut them up by grinder because we can’t get them onto the boat otherwise.”

He said they also collected rubbish along the beach to stop turtles and other animals from choking on items such as plastic.

 “While we have been out on patrol, we have seen a lot of saltwater animals in the water,” Alex said.
 “We all like the beach and it’s important that we look after it.”

He hoped to do his coxswain ticket soon so he could skipper the boat himself.

IMAGE: Umbakumba rangers Alex Ngalmi and Cassie Maminyamanja survey the shores near North East Island.