Please note: The Whitsundays Plan of Management has been amended. Some of the information below may have changed. Please refer to the Whitsundays Plan of Management for further information.
Blue Pearl Bay is located on the north western side of Hayman Island in the Whitsundays Group. It is popular with tourists and locals for snorkelling, diving and sightseeing.
Different tools are used to manage this site, extending from the Zoning Plan which covers the entire Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, to individual permits which may restrict where a tourist operator can go, what activities they can offer and even what time of day they can operate.
The purpose for compiling these site management arrangements is to resolve conflicts in use identified by the Whitsunday Local Marine Advisory Committee and the tourism industry including:
- snorkeller safety (boats accessing the area);
- use of the beach by tourist operators (overcrowding and conflict between operators); and
- overcrowding and competition in the bay between tourist operators.
Under the Zoning Plan, Blue Pearl Bay is a Marine National Park Zone, or a Green Zone. Green Zones are ‘no-take’ areas and activities like fishing and collecting are not allowed. Please refer to the Zoning Maps for detailed information and the Activities Guide for a simplified explanation of activities you can do in each zone.
Whitsundays Plan of Management
The Whitsundays Plan of Management was developed to protect and conserve the values of the Whitsundays area, while still allowing for a range of activities to take place.
Under the WPOM, Blue Pearl Bay is classed as a Setting 3 area. A Setting 3 area is:
A natural setting that may have moderate levels of visitation, with appropriate moorings and management facilities to manage impacts. These areas are occasionally visited by larger vessels and aircraft.
There are restrictions on the size of groups and vessels that can visit Blue Pearl Bay as part of a permitted tourist activity. These restrictions are listed below:
Maximum group size (including crew) up to 40 people
Maximum vessel length of up to 35m
The above restrictions do not apply to:
- A vessel transiting the setting area
- Certain long range roving operations (these are special types of operations)
- A permitted tourism operator who has a relevant permission or special exemption or authorisation from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)
Maritime Safety Queensland’s Operating Procedures
In accordance with Section 88 of the Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Act 1994, the Regional Harbour Master may give directions to ship masters as to how they are to operate their vessels. Directions have been developed by the Regional Harbour Master (Mackay) for all ships' masters entering the enclosed waters of Blue Pearl Bay i.e. the area inside the Reef Protection Markers. NOTE: For the purpose of these directions a ship includes all vessels including a tender or rescue vessel.
Maritime Safety Queensland, through the Regional Harbour Master - Mackay, is investigating the possibility of gazetting the Blue Pearl Bay access channel in order to address safety issues relating to the use of the channel, including a speed limit within the channel, as well as use of a beach landing area for safe transfer of passengers.
Operating procedures developed by the Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association
The Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association has developed a set of operating procedures for commercial vessels using Blue Pearl Bay. While these procedures are not part of any regulatory framework, the GBRMPA supports the tourism industry’s resolve to find a solution to the issues identified in this area.
Permitted Tourist Operations
A Marine Parks permit is a legal document granted to a company or individual giving them permission to operate and carry out activities within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park.
A permit describes what activities are permitted, the conditions under which these can occur, exactly where they can occur and for what length of time they can be undertaken. Find out more about Marine Parks permits.
Some permitted tourism operators have exemptions to the Setting 3 restrictions at Blue Pearl Bay. Some of these exemptions allow greater vessel sizes or group sizes.
Anchoring Restrictions, Public Moorings and Reef Protection Markers
Reef Protection Markers have been installed to protect the fringing coral reef around the bay and to prevent anchor damage. No anchoring is allowed landward of the imaginary line that connects these Reef Protection Markers. (Reef Protection Markers are white pyramid shaped buoys with blue Marine Parks labels. These markers must not be used to moor vessels.)
Eight (8) public moorings have been installed at Blue Pearl Bay. View a map of their positions and vessel size restrictions. Care should be taken when anchoring near or around coral. More information is available in the following publication:
Public moorings and anchoring – protecting coral in the Whitsundays
Bookings to the Whitsunday Plan of Management Area
Operators with a Regional Tour Operation permit can access the Whitsunday Plan of Management area without a booking.
All other permit holders must make a booking to use the Planning Area. Bookings can be made by contacting the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service office at Airlie Beach at:
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service
Shute Harbour Rd
Telephone (07) 4946 7022
Fax (07) 4946 7023