Law enforcement and peace officer (LEPO) training for the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) fisheries management branch is underway thanks to a R50 million injection from Norway.
The funding is to be spread over a three year period and will increase the number of qualified and trained officials in fisheries management able to tackle fish crimes in South African territorial waters, DAAF spokesman Palesa Mokomele said in a statement.
Training began earlier this month with officials in DAFF’s marine anti-poaching project the first students at the Fisheries Crime Law Enforcement Academy at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in Port Elizabeth. The short course centres round fisheries law enforcement.
LEPO is offered on NQF (National Qualifications Framework) level five for officials with matric and level four for those without. Training is fully accredited and credits obtained can be accumulated toward a higher certificate and diploma.
“All fishery control officers, irrespective of current qualifications, will attend training,” he said of the programme, which is part of Norway’s contribution to the blue economy sector of Operation Phakisa.
Advocate Phil Snijman, a former official in the Chief Directorate: Monitoring Compliance and Surveillance (MCS), the law enforcement arm of the Fisheries Branch is one of the facilitators with a plethora of knowledge and experience in the Marine Living Resources Act, the guiding mandate for MCS.
The tailor-made training addresses gaps of formal training in the Chief Directorate and comes in the wake of no formal certificates to address the training needs of MCS.
Fatima Savel, acting Director, Monitoring Control and Surveillance and also Deputy Director, Skills Development Training and Awareness, said: “The amount of interest received indicates people are ready to be trained and qualified. We are looking at training young people inland as well as at coastal areas to widen our reach as well as strengthen our initiatives. We look forward to the increasing list of partnerships and again thank the Norwegians.”