Existing protection and management
although changes to Queensland Government policy have introduced some incompatibilities. A key issue is the complexity of the management arrangements and the level of understanding required of operators. Overall outcomes in relation to commercial marine tourism would likely be improved through simplification and alignment of management arrangements. There is no permit compliance program — although non-compliance is unlikely to be significantly threatening the Region’s values. An online system for the Environmental Management Charge, an online bookings system and improvements in permits management have increased user accessibility as well as improving understanding of the implications of latent capacity and trends in use. Ageing and poorly maintained tourism infrastructure is an emerging issue; an audit and compliance plan is being developed and relevant policy updated. Planning has not proactively addressed emerging trends and opportunities as effectively as it might. While plans of management are in place for intensively-used areas, planning capability and the lack of a schedule of regular reviews affect the currency and consistency of plans. Although under development, an overarching strategy to guide tourism management identified as lacking in the Outlook Report 2009 is still to be finalised, and site planning has not expanded to areas where use is increasing. Policies covering many aspects of tourism are outdated. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority continues to have high levels of skills related to marine tourism management and impact assessment, and continues to receive expert advice from its advisory committees. There has been a general decline in the delivery of interpretation about the Region and its values by the tourism industry, due mainly to difficulties in recruiting suitable staff and reductions in training opportunities. Reef health monitoring information provided by tourism operators through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Eye on the Reef program improves the information available for decision making. Monitoring information is better integrated, and the program has a user-friendly data portal and online training. Government agencies, scientists and the tourism industry are collaborating closely in addressing the threat of crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks, especially at sites of high tourism value. The number of operators participating in the partnership High Standard Tourism program continues to grow, with the majority of tourists visiting the Reef on an independently certified high standard operator. To some extent, successes in managing tourism have meant that management emphasis has shifted from it to other higher risk issues. This is reflected in a reduction of the management effectiveness grades relating to planning and management processes and a declining trend in the grades for management inputs and outputs.
Effectiveness of tourism management has declined as emphasis has shifted to emerging issues.
7.3.2 Defence activities
Activities undertaken by the Department of Defence in the Region continue to be managed effectively with close cooperation clearly evident between the Department of Defence, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and other agencies. The Department of Defence recognises the area’s world heritage status and the pressures it is facing, and is generally implementing best practice environmental management. There is a management agreement between the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Department of Defence on implementation of a strategic environmental assessment of defence activities in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.5 Strategic documents, policies and regular meetings facilitate implementation of the agreement and ensure a consistent approach with other management agencies.
Defence training exercise, Shoalwater Bay in the south of the Region