Training in enforcement for marine protected areas in the Turks and Caicos Islands

Turks and Caicos seascape. Image: Ben Saren

Media release —  Fisheries, Marine and Conservation Officers from Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI) recently completed a law enforcement training workshop.

Nineteen participants took part in a training to enhance the enforcement of marine protected areas (MPAs). The week-long workshop was held in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands from 24 – 28 September and focused on best practices for situational awareness/officer safety, verbal judo, vessel boarding, Standard Operational Procedures (SOP), outreach and education for the public, evidence preservation and proper reporting.

Captain Jayson Horadam, the principal instructor of the course and President of MPA Enforcement International, is a regional natural resource law enforcement expert from Florida. He explained, “The workshop is a 40-hour course comprised of classroom instruction and most importantly, hands on, in the field training. It is designed to produce three positive results. First, it provides basic skills and knowledge of law enforcement to the men and women tasked with protection and enforcement in MPAs. Second, it trains these guardians to be ambassadors and educators while protecting the environment. For those not wishing to follow rules and regulations, the enforcement officers now have a more effective and efficient ability to take professional enforcement actions. Third, the workshop brings together different agencies from the Turks and Caicos and demonstrates the need for partnerships and teamwork which will be necessary to ensure the marine environment will be protected and preserved for generations”.

The course, organized by MPA Enforcement International and TCI’s Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR), included participants from the TCI Government Maritime Department, Royal TCI Marine Police, TCI Planning Department, Prosecutor’s Office and DECR.  

DECR Assistant Director of Enforcement, Luc Clerveaux stated that, “The TCI currently has over 15 MPAs composed of shallow and deep-water habitats of ecological importance. The protection of these ecosystems is inextricably linked to the capacity of enforcement officers to fulfill their duties effectively. The DECR has, since the early 1990s, developed the necessary legislative frameworks to promote the sustainable usage and protection of these critical habitats. This training provided DECR Conservation Officers the opportunity to sharpen their skillset in conducting vessel inspections, disarming persons, diffusing hostile situations using verbal judo, as well as preparing and presenting case files for court procedures. Officers expressed that the training helped them to improve their plans and preparations for conducting sea patrols and be able to better control enforcement scenarios. It is evident that MPA enforcement activities will be much improved as a result of this training”.

This workshop is the most recent in a series of 17 such law enforcement workshops throughout the Caribbean region that has provided training for more than 650 enforcement personnel in best practices for natural resource protection. The TCI training was made possible through support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Conservation Program to enhance enforcement capacity for coral reef management in the Caribbean.

[Image: Ben Saren]

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