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JICA brings International trainees to Okinawa

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-09-25

Pollution control is the job of several foreign guests currently participating in a special training course at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at Urasoe, Okinawa. The trainees, representing nine different countries from around the world, arrived in Okinawa on August 6, and will be learning different techniques in marine pollution surveillance and control, until October 23. Each of the trainees is a marine pollution specialist working for various government agencies within their own respective countries.

JICA, a Japanese Government funded program which provides technical training to foreigners in various fields, invited the trainees to observe and study marine pollution surveillance and control measures being conducted by the Japan Maritime Safety Agency. During their training course, the participants learn valuable information and also get hands on experience, which they will take back to their own countries.

The program was initiated in 1983, and it has taken place every year since then. Its main goal is to teach individuals how to investigate specific types of pollution and to be able to identify its source. Patrolling waterways and trying to prevent ships from releasing oil deliberately into the sea is one of the main targets of the eleven week course. The trainees also learn how to take samples of spilled oil and other chemicals. They learn to analyze the samples to help them discover where the illegal dumping occurred and from what vessel.

Hendra Yusran Siry, who works for the Directorate of Environment Management, under the Indonesian Ministry of Home Affairs, is one of the participants in this year's course. The program is especially important to Hendra, who spends much of his time trying to introduce protective measures for coral reefs. One of the most important factors for preventing marine pollution is getting the community involved," said Hendra. "Here we learn many things that will help us back in our own countries. I would like to express my personal thanks to JICA. I hope this program can continue."

In Bangkok, Thailand, where pollution has become a major concern for both citizens and government officials, the application of techniques learned through the JICA course is extremely valuable to Environmental Officer Soontharee Pirom. "There are many problems with illegal dumping in our rivers, especially at night. There are many industrial areas along our waterways. When we have a problem with an oil spill, it is important for us to know how to analyze and find out what ship this has come from," she said.

Another goal of JICA's Marine Pollution Surveillance and Control course is to facilitate more cooperation among different nations. The economic boom occurring in countries such as China has dramatically increased the amount of international shipping. The increase also brings with it more problems with marine pollution. In countries such as the Seychelles, where pollution is not yet a problem, international cooperation is still seen as very important to help ensure that marine pollution does not progress in the future. "We don't have a problem with marine pollution, but it is still very sensitive for us, since tourism and fisheries is our main industries," said Seychelles Coast Guard Officer Jean Attala. "This program is a good way of finding out about what the Japanese Government and other countries are doing to prevent marine pollution. Through interaction we can all learn from each other."

Toshiyuki Hamamoto and Joji Tsuhako, members of the Marine Environment Enforcement Division for the Japan Maritime Safety Agency, 11th Regional Maritime Safety Headquarters, also expressed their delight in being a part of the instruction course, and see their job as important for global cooperation for cleaner and safer waterways.

Other trainees taking the course are: Malta Civil Protection Department's Operation Manager Patrick Murgo, Pollution Control Officer Edgar Guerra Castillo from Panama, Philippine Coast Guard Staff Secretary to the Chief Gerry Mostoles Parinas, Oil Spill Combating Specialist Hassan Saleh Akbar from Saudi Arabia, and Environmental Engineer Saban Cimen from Turkey.

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