Commercial and non-commercial use
species through vessel fouling, especially those from overseas; oil and chemical spills; vessel sewage discharge; and disturbance of wildlife. Vessel groundings, including vessels used for recreation, are reported from throughout the Region, concentrated in coastal areas (Figure 5.22). Most groundings only have a localised impact. High demand and long wait times at popular access points can result in use being spread to adjacent, less popular areas as people choose to spend more time travelling and less time queuing.122 Alternatively increasing recreational use could lead to increased localised pressure on some access points close to urban centres.122 Any increases in recreational use are likely to increase effects on heritage values, especially in those cases where recreational activities are incompatible with Traditional Owner cultural use of marine resources in their sea country areas. Compliance incidents associated with recreational activities other than fishing include vessel groundings and sinkings, installing unpermitted moorings, pollution including littering and illegal discharges, entering restricted areas or zones, approaching whales too closely and offences on islands such as camping without a permit, lighting campfires and taking domestic animals ashore.124
Figure 5.22 reported vessel groundings, 1987–2012
The locations with a very high number of groundings in the Region over the period are those associated with cyclonic events. Data includes all types of vessels that have grounded or beached.
5.7 Research and educational activities
5.7.1 Current state and trends of research and educational activities
The Great Barrier Reef has historically been an area of high scientific interest because of its biological and ecological diversity, geomorphology and cultural heritage. Scientific research has made a substantial contribution to the way the Region is understood, managed and used.125,126 Available monitoring results enable tracking of trends in some of the Region’s values and in the factors affecting them.127
The Region is highly valued for educational and research activities.
A network of six island research stations located at Lizard Island, Low Isles, Green Island, Orpheus Island, Heron Island and One Tree Island continues to be integral to research activities on the Reef. Eighty per cent of scientific research has been conducted around Lizard, Heron and Orpheus islands.128 The research stations are also a focus for permitted educational use. Over half of the education permits issued between July 2008 and June 2013 were for Heron Island and the adjacent Wistari Reef.129 Management Scientific research is provided for in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan 2003. Scientific Research Zones provide opportunities for scientific research in relatively undisturbed areas. Individual research activities are managed through permits issued jointly by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Government or through accreditation of research institutions. Educational activities require a permit.
5.7.2 Benefits of research and educational activities
Research and monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef continues to contribute to global knowledge about individual species, coral reef systems and tropical marine ecology. An improved understanding of the Region’s values and how its components interact and respond to changing conditions has contributed substantially to its protection and management.130 In addition, the results of targeted and applied research are providing managers with information to better measure the outcomes of management initiatives.