Inmates learn to fish

National, Normal

The National – Tuesday, June 21, 2011

THE Beon Correctional Institution in Madang has learned to trust some of its prisoners, four of them “high risk”, by allowing them out to go fishing for the 400-plus prisoners.
Sixteen participants from Beon, seven staff members, three civilians and six prisoners graduated last Friday with certificates of participation from a two-week course on “small fishing operations training”.
The week-long theory and four days of practical sessions included camping out on Mareg Island near Yabob, keeping night vigil over warders as they slept, rising as early as 3am and heading out to sea.
Their impressive haul of over 200 kg of gropers, eels and snappers impressed Beon commanding officer Tita Wada.
Praising his prisoners and staff for their loyalty to the three National Fisheries Authority trainers, Chief Insp Wada said the men not only caught fish but removed  the fear of  them running away by being committed and trustworthy throughout the course.
He said more of such training would be held.
Beon is the third maritime province to receive such training from the fisheries authority, with Kavieng and Kerevat jail, in Rabaul, being the other two.
The aim of the course is to upskill prisoners and warders in fishing skills to sustain their livelihoods when they go back into their communities and to supplement the prisons’ usual diet.
Master fisherman Pomat Litau, who was a former inmate of Kavieng, said he came up with the vision while a prisoner after becoming tired of the “rice and tinned fish” fare.
His vision came into fruition in 2006 and has since been an ongoing training offered by the authority to the three maritime provinces.
Kavieng now boasts two warders and a prisoner who are accredited with Commercial Fishing Operation 2, which qualifies them to work on any fishing vessel under 15m.
Included in the course for the 16 were maritime safety operations.
Participants expressed satisfaction and eagerness when told that their skills would not go to waste as stakeholders in the province supporting the institution would find jobs for them after they completed their terms in jail.
RD Tuna representatives Leo Namun and Greg Magolis told the prisoners they would offer them work. Invited speakers were town mayor Mike Kamo, his guest, Vanimo town mayor Peter Yemin, Madang Teachers College deputy principal, Holy Spirit headmaster Moses Gabuongi, deputy mayor Christopher Tomongo and ward member Cletus Kumsin.