Red Sea Rangers patrol and protect a substantial portion of the Egyptian Red Sea. Their mandate under the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) in the Ministry of the Environment is more than just enforcement, as they also aim to raise public awareness on the protection of the Marine Parks by monitoring tourist dive boats and by installing and maintaining moorings. As such, these rangers need to be trained in many field skills relevant to marine management and operations.
As part a three-year collaboration between the international tour operator Kuoni and IUCN, a training course was held on PADI Search and Rescue operations for the Red Sea Marine Park Rangers in the South of Egypt. Organised by the IUCN Global Marine Programme, in association with the Red Sea Protectorates, the Red Sea Protectorate Development Association, and the Red Sea Diving Safari Eco-Adventure, the course set out to increase the skills and preparation of the Rangers in the face of potential emergencies and to enhance their ability to deal with unforeseen situations at sea.
Participation in the course was subject to a competitive process and was designed to enhance field skills for each participant so that they could be further passed on to their colleagues. A panel of referees led by Dr. Ameer Abdulla, Senior Advisor of the Global Marine & Polar Programme (GMPP) selected five highly motivated Rangers to participate in the course from a list complied by Mr. Usama Ghazali, Chair of the Red Sea Protected Areas Development Association. Ms. Olivia Meylan from GMPP, a certified PADI Instructor, organized and led the course.
The course took place over 4 days in Nakari Red Sea Diving Safari Center near Marsa Alam and included both theory and water skills sessions, culminating in a final written examination. Throughout the course, the Red Sea Rangers showed a great deal of enthusiasm a high level of performance and all were successfully certified. In addition, a few terrestrial Rangers were given the chance to try SCUBA for the first time and discover the wonderful coral reefs of the Red Sea.
This successful and productive week of training will be followed by a training component on ecological sampling design, data collection and analysis. This additional training will give rangers the tools and skills for improved monitoring and management of the Marine Protected Areas of the Egyptian Red Sea.