Garngi rangers – the NLC’s “eyes and ears” on the Arafura Sea

Date: Jan 10, 2023

Publication Type: Blog

Subject: Newspaper

The Northern Land Council’s Garngi ranger group operate out of Minjilang on Croker Island 200km north-east of Darwin and manage the land and coastal waters around Croker Island.

The rangers carry out regular boat patrols in the region to look out for any illegal or suspicious fishing activities. Like many of the ranger groups operating across the northern coast of Australia, they are the eyes and the ears for regulators and law enforcement in this area. The rangers also look for marine litter including ghost nets.

On a recent patrol they set out to investigate a reported infestation of an invasive weed, Mimosa pigra that had earlier been spotted by the North Australian Quarantine Service while conducting an animal survey by helicopter.

Garngi Ranger Group Coordinator Bryan Macdonald and Charles Darwin University researcher Natalie Robinson

Like all of the NLC ranger groups, the Garngi Rangers work closely with their neighbouring ranger groups and a variety of Territory and Federal agencies, including Quarantine, the NT Police and NT Fisheries. 

Near Cape Croker the Garngi patrol spotted a vessel anchored close to mouth of the creek near the lighthouse and the rangers were concerned that this vessel was anchored above a sacred site. The vessel was a large guided fishing operator with three small tenders.

Garngi Rangers Sabrina Wauchope and Katrin Marranbya installing signage at the Timor Springs turn off

On this day the Garngi patrol was unsuccessful in initiating any further investigation for the alleged transgression on the sacred site but were able to use this event to assess how they could do better next time.

Since that event they have started working more closely with the NT Water Police, NT Fisheries and the NLC’s Caring for Country Compliance Team, in order to gather the right kind of evidence that could support a prosecution in the future.

With the assistance of the Caring for Country Compliance team the Garngi rangers designed and installed a number of Information signs around Croker Island and the adjacent outer islands that will put fishers on notice as to where they can go and what areas they should avoid.