Commercial and non-commercial use
Exercises during Talisman Sabre 2013
Defence bases at Cairns and Townsville also continue to strongly support these regional economies. Little is known of the economic benefits of most defence training activities to the coastal communities adjacent to the Region. The Talisman Sabre 2013 exercise was estimated to contribute $4 million to the Rockhampton economy and $200,000 to the Townsville economy.19 Periodic visits from the United States of America, New Zealand and Singapore naval ships to ports at Townsville and Cairns also generate shortterm economic benefits.20
5.3.3 Impacts of defence activities
Defence activities continue to be well planned and well resourced, so incidents causing harm to the habitats and species of the Region are rare. Standard operating procedures and contingency plans cover all defence activities, and any incidents are promptly reported and closely investigated. For example in July 2013, two explosive and two inert practice bombs were jettisoned from a United States marines aircraft during a military exercise. The explosive ordnance were located, retrieved and disposed of within two months.21 However, by their nature, defence activities pose risks which must be continually monitored and managed. The Australian Defence Force employs stringent quarantine measures to reduce the risk of introducing marine pests.22 Other local and regional scale impacts include: debris and residue from expendable stores; death, injury or disruption to marine life; exclusion of other users; discharge of sewage and other wastes; oil spills; and risks to other users and their property if they stray into defence training areas during exercises. There are a range of legacy impacts associated with past defence activities. Most significant is the presence of large amounts of unexploded ordnance (such as shells, missiles and bombs) and chemical warfare agents that were deliberately dumped at sea at the end of World War II.23,24 While modern defence training activities are well managed and have negligible impacts on the Great Barrier Reef, the predicted intensification of defence activities in the Region coincides with a decline in the Region’s ecosystem health caused by a range of other pressures. The Australian Defence Force continues to work with management agencies to review the risks posed by defence activities in light of new information about the Region’s declining ecosystem resilience.
The level of planning and resourcing mean defence incidents are rare.
At a state-wide scale, the Region represents an important resource for Queensland’s fisheries. The Great Barrier Reef supports a range of fishing activities targeting a variety of species including fishes, sharks, crabs and prawns. For the purposes of this report, the term ‘fishing’ includes recreational, charter and commercial fisheries, plus the Queensland shark control program. Fishing activities associated with traditional use are considered in Section 5.9.
5.4.1 Current state and trends of fishing
recreational fishing Recreational fishing is one of the most popular activities on the Great Barrier Reef. There has been a steady increase in vessel registrations in the Region’s catchments over the past few decades (Section 5.6.1)25, which may translate to increased recreational fishing effort. A 2013 survey found