- Six international students join first graduates of Graduate Certificate in Fish Conservation and Management
- International graduates were funded through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research
- The course aims to increase capacity of people interested in river management and restoration
- Graduates will celebrate during a ceremony in Albury-Wodonga on Monday 11 April
Six international students will be among the first graduates of Charles Sturt University’s Graduate Certificate in Fish Conservation and Management at a graduation ceremony in Albury-Wodonga today.
Charles Sturt, in collaborations with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), funded the development of the Graduate Certificate in Fish Conservation and Management as a demonstration of the integration of research and teaching.
Six full fee-paying scholarships were funded through ACIAR, with support from the Crawford fund, through an existing research project – ‘Translating fish passage research into policy and governance frameworks’ – worth $2.86 million, with a further $5 million approved by DFAT to extend the project.
The project will run in Lao PDR, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand until December 2025.
Scholars were nominated by the governments of Myanmar, Lao PDR and Indonesia. There were two scholars from each country – one irrigation engineer and one fisheries professional.
Mitigating human impacts on river systems is also a significant issue in the Murray-Darling Basin and the driving reason behind why several Australian students also self-funded their entry into the course.
Charles Sturt Interim Director of the Gulbali Institute for Agriculture, Water and Environment Professor Lee Baumgartner said the scholarships sought to address a gap in the training of irrigation and fisheries professionals in Australia and South East Asia.
“The knowledge these students have gained will increase their water management skills, allowing them to make significant contributions to this research project and to future projects they work on that will benefit the environment in Australia and abroad,” he said.
The Graduate Certificate in Fish Conservation and Management provides the only graduate certificate dedicated to fish conservation and management offered in Australia.
It has a strong industry-based foundation and is designed to prepare graduates for a career in freshwater fisheries management and/or research.
The course has been developed in consultation with global and national industry partners and provides students with practical experience in the fields of fish ecology, fish passage engineering and fish- friendly hydropower development using state- of-the art lab facilities at Charles Sturt University.
The practical course has plenty of hands-on components with key learning focuses on practical skills with application to river restoration. It has huge relevance to programs seeking to restore river health.
“As such, our first students included those helping to implement the Murray-Darling Basin plan, Northern Basin Toolkit, roads upgrades programs and various people working for catchment management and water utility organisations,” said Course Director in the Charles Sturt Faculty of Science and Health Mr Matthew Hunt.
“Our first graduates include fisheries technicians, scientists, engineers and catchment managers.”
ACIAR Research Program Manager for Fisheries Professor Ann Fleming said that increasing the scientific capacity of developing countries throughout the Indo-Pacific is critical in achieving local and lasting solutions to issues of river connectivity and fisheries sustainability.
“Australia is a world leader in agricultural research. Our knowledge is invaluable to helping our regional neighbours develop productive and sustainable agrifood systems. Sharing that knowledge to build regional capacity is an essential part of this process,” Professor Fleming said.
“The ACIAR-funded research led by Professor Baumgartner has an incredible impact on fisheries sustainability and food security across Southeast Asia.
“To see these young researchers from developing countries learn about water management in relation to fishery sustainability at Charles Sturt means that the impact of our investment will endure long after the funding ends.”
Commencement of the course was delayed due to COVID-19, so the first cohort of students have studied online and completed their requirements, which included a hands-on residential school in March 2022.
The reopening of international borders means graduating international students were able to travel to Australia for a small event to receive their testamurs, while also performing more hands-on learning.
Enrolments are now open for the 2022 intake. The course is open for domestic and international students interested in pursuing a career in river management with a particular focus on fisheries and aquatic health.
More information on the course and details on how to enrol are available on the Charles Sturt website.