Australian Marine Conservation Society and Fraser Coast Fishing Alliance Media Release
- Fraser Coast’s dugongs, dolphins & turtles get better protection with Queensland Government’s rezoning plan offering more fully protected marine sanctuaries
- Great Sandy Marine Park includes K’gari and Hervey Bay
Conservation, tourism and recreational fishers have today welcomed the Queensland Government’s new Great Sandy Marine Park zoning plan.
The Queensland Government has significantly increased the area covered by fully protected marine sanctuaries in the Great Sandy Marine Park, providing better protection for the Fraser Coast’s unique marine life, including dugongs, turtles, grey nurse sharks and the Australian humpback dolphin. These changes will also greatly assist local fish stocks to recover.
The new zoning plan, released today, also removes destructive gillnet fishing from Conservation Park (yellow) zones, including waters throughout the Great Sandy Strait, creating a new gillnet-free area greater than 60,000 hectares – equivalent to more than 70,000 football fields.
The Great Sandy Marine Park, which includes K’gari and Hervey Bay, is a natural treasure, boasting the state’s largest urban dugong population and huge fish diversity. Established in 2006, the Great Sandy Marine Park zoning plan was well overdue for renewal as our understanding of the outstanding values and growing threats to the area have changed markedly.
AMCS Marine Parks Campaigner James Sherwood said: “The new Great Sandy Marine Park zoning plan will improve protection of threatened species such as dugongs, turtles, grey nurse sharks and the Australian humpback dolphin.
“Back-to-back flooding events have decimated seagrass meadows in the Great Sandy Marine Park which is the primary food source for dugong and turtles. The expansion of fully protected areas will protect additional seagrass habitat that they rely on.
“The increase in fully protected areas is also welcome news for the region which will help to better protect biodiversity and rebuild fish populations in the marine park”.
Scott Mitchell, Chairman of the Fraser Coast Fishing Alliance, said: “The Great Sandy Marine Park is one of Queensland’s greatest coastal treasures. The fantastic fish diversity makes this region unique and includes tropical and sub-tropical species, which attracts recreational fishers and visitors from across the country and overseas.
“Anyone who has fished consistently throughout the Great Sandy Marine Park from Baffle Creek in the north to Double Island Point in the south during the last few decades will confirm they have observed significant localised depletion across several of our key recreational species. The new zoning plan will assist in restoring and protecting fish stocks throughout the Great Sandy Marine Park for future generations while creating new employment opportunities.
“Bringing an end to destructive gillnetting inside the Conservation Park zones is well overdue and should never have been established in the first place. The Great Sandy Marine Park was the only marine park in Australia that allowed commercial gillnetting in Conservation Park zones.
“You only need to look at what has happened on the Fitzroy River at Rockhampton to see the benefits that come from removing commercial netting and creating net-free zones. New employment opportunities will arise from increased recreational fishing tourism and local fishers alike which flows out across the community.”
The Australian Marine Conservation Society and the Fraser Coast Fishing Alliance are part of the Great Sandy Alliance with other conservation groups, recreational fishers and tourism operators. The Alliance called on the Queensland Government to develop a zoning plan that delivers better protection for the region, including increasing fully protected areas and removing gillnets from Conservation Park zones. This will ensure that the region’s incredible ecological values are upheld and new tourism and employment opportunities will be created, including recreational fishing.
The Great Sandy Marine Park is one of Queensland’s greatest natural treasures taking in Baffle Creek to the north down to Double Island Point in the south including The Elliot River, Burrum River, Hervey Bay, the Great Sandy Straits and tributaries down to Tin Can Inlet and the waters off the east coast of K’gari, seaward to three nautical miles.
Improvements in the new zoning plan include:
- Significantly increased area covered by fully protected marine sanctuaries
- New gillnet (large mesh net) free Conservation Park zones
- New go-slow areas to improve protection for turtles and dugongs
- New no-anchoring areas to reduce impacts on sensitive habitats
- New provisions to reduce disturbance to migratory shorebirds
- Expansion of the fully protected area around Wolf Rock improving protection for the critically endangered Grey Nurse Shark (EPBC Act).