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Origins

The Marine Crime Scene Investigations (MCSI) Program arose out of a desire by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to create a training program to help other nations process marine crime scenes with the end goal of prosecuting the violators. The MCSI program partnered with the International Coral Reef CSI Field Training Program (CRCSI) which had been running a variety of field training programs globally for the last decade. The CRCSI arose originally out of a session on Enforcement at the first International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC) in Geelong, Australia. Several congress participants suggested forming an international effort to promote capacity building in marine enforcement and natural resource investigations geared towards coral reef ecosystems. At its November 2005 meeting, the U.S. Representative to the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES), strongly supported this effort by creating a Committee on Coral Reef Enforcement and Natural Resource Investigation to specifically facilitate its occurrence. The recommendations resulted in a series of workshops on coral reef enforcement and investigation issues at the 3rd International Tropical Marine Ecosystems Management Symposium (ITMEMS3) in Cozumel, Mexico. Along with the success of the pilot Coral Reef CSI Field Training Workshop, these efforts resulted in the creation of the CRCSI as a formal program under ICRI to train Natural Resource Trustees in marine investigations to hold Responsible Parties accountable for damages to protected marine resources. At present, over 24 international training workshops have been held all over the world and over 600 marine resource managers, enforcement officers, litigators, and investigators have been trained through the CRCSI program.

 

While successful, the CRCSI program never was intended to focus primarily on training of enforcement personnel. The MCSI was created to fill that void. Much of the instruction in the MCSI program is geared toward law enforcement and directing law enforcement efforts toward the prosecution of environmental crimes specifically in the marine environment (i.e., coral reef degradation, contaminants in near shore waters, illegal fishing, endangered or threatened species protection etc.). The MCSI program is run by professionals who have spent decades in law enforcement and use that experience to create a class with well over half of its time spent in hands-on field scenarios. The class is designed to take a law enforcement officer from the initial report of a violation through the investigative process, evidence collection and processing, note taking, report writing and presentation to a prosecutor and ultimately to a courtroom. The training is done with a low instructor to student ratio of one instructor to five or six students. Instruction is augmented by the host nation providing instruction in local laws and applicability, prosecution requirements, local laboratory requirements etc.

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