FRITZ Loban is looking after his community in more ways than one, caring for both residents and the local waterways. The Weipa-based Police Liaison Officer recently took part in a special environmental program to help clean up ghost nets from the nearby Gulf of Carpentaria and Albatross Bay.
Ghost nets, which are abandoned, lost or discarded fishing nets, are one of the most damaging types of pollution found in our oceans and can be kilometres long and weigh up to several tonnes.
They can result in significant environmental damage by introducing marine pests and synthetic materials, as well as create safety hazards that impact shipping and navigation.
Recently, PLO Loban was having a conversation with a local community member who asked him if he knew how to splice rope.
The answer was a big “yes”, which was followed quickly by “would you like to help with Project ReCon”.
Project Recon is a world-first initiative that uses retrieved and repurposed satellite technology to track and remove deadly and destructive ghost nets.
Fritzy (as he is affectionately known around town), could think of no better way to give back to his community and jumped right into helping.
He spent the day helping resplice rope on some of the repurposed GPS buoys, so local fishers and boaties can deploy them on their next trip if they encounter a ghost net.
After working for the Australian Customs Service (ACS) and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) for over 20 years, Fritzy decided on a career change when he moved to Weipa.
He has now been a Police Liaison Officer for about four years
Originally from the Torres Strait, he has heritage at Kubin on Moa Island, Mabuiag Island, Badu Island and Thursday Island.
Fritzy spends a large amount of his time assisting members of the Weipa, Mapoon and Napranum communities.
He is also a regular at PCYC Napranum and Western Cape College, helping deliver programs and mentoring local youths.
“It’s a great opportunity to help bridge the gap between us (as police) and them,” Fritzy said.
“As far as I’m concerned, we are one big community, we all live here and need to get along.
“If I can help that by going to meetings, helping the youth or splicing rope, then I want to continue to be front and centre.”