Unique course tackles global maritime problem

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Each year, around the globe, billions of dollars are spent by governments and industry to control tiny marine pests that have become a very big problem.

Biofouling, where aquatic organisms accumulate on aquatic surfaces and structures, is an important issue for the shipping and fisheries industries.

Challenger Institute of Technology, in partnership with the Department of Fisheries WA, is joining the fight against biofouling with the launch of a new biofouling inspection course beginning in 2014.

The seven-week full-time Certificate IV in Biofouling Inspection is believed to be a world-first and has been specifically designed to fill an industry gap in biofouling services across Australia. The course also addresses introduced marine pests and invasive marine species that can pose a threat to Australia's unique marine environment

"The qualification's aim is to set biofouling inspection standards and contribute to effective and consistent biosecurity management of Australia's waters," Challenger Institute marine and logistics program manager Kevin Evans said.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, it's estimated that of the 250 marine species introduced into Australian waters, up to 75 per cent has arrived as biofouling.

Mr Evans said vessels used for commercial shipping, fishing and recreation, as well as barges, dredges and oil rigs are all prone to the destructive effects of biofouling.

With the Department of Fisheries in need of qualified biofouling inspectors, the course could not have come at a more opportune time.

"Successful completion of this qualification will be one component on the way to creating a pool of recognised biofouling inspectors to undertake hull inspections, prepare management documentation and environmental plans and complete reports on biosecurity," Mr Evans said.

While not essential, it is highly recommended that prospective students have a qualification in marine biology or significant experience in the environmental or quarantine fields.

The course starts in February 2014 at Challenger Institute's maritime campus on Fleet Street, Fremantle.

PHOTO CAPTION: The Asian Green Mussel is an invasive marine species that has recently been detected on vessels in WA.

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