GREAT BARRIER REEF
// Outlook Report 2014
Port of Hay Point
© Susan Sobtzick
Port planning in the recent past has appeared somewhat ad hoc. The significantly elevated number of port development proposals in the Region has accentuated concerns, both in Australia and internationally, about the likely future impacts of ports and port activities on the Region. Although some of the proposed port developments had the potential to threaten the Region’s ecological processes and integrity, it is pertinent to recognise that to date port developments have not resulted in any significant, widespread deterioration of the Region. Some localised effects are recognised, for example at dredging and marine disposal sites.
Responsibility for managing non-extractive recreation is spread across a variety of Australian and Queensland government agencies. Principal among these are the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Queensland Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing, and Maritime Safety Queensland. Recreation in the Region is managed through a variety of tools and coordination between relevant agencies in enforcing marine parks management arrangements is high. Some products and services such as maps and brochures are jointly prepared and presented. The diffuse nature of recreation means that the management arrangements do not provide certainty regarding where uses may occur and where any impacts are likely to be acceptable. Substantial increases in the numbers of visits made by recreational users and shifts in the popularity of activities have been documented.8 The results of the Social and Economic Long-term Monitoring Program are beginning to improve understanding of recreational use in the Region, including users’ values and activities. The lack of an overarching document to guide planning for recreational use was identified in the Outlook Report 2009 and has been addressed by the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority through subsequent preparation of a Recreation Management Strategy for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park9. The strategy is designed to provide an overarching framework for the management of recreation in a coordinated manner and to inform the public of the management approach. The values that attract large numbers of visitors are well documented in the strategy, the threats and risks to those values are clearly articulated, and the management tools are identified. The major risks and threats and the avenues to reduce them are assessed; however, while cumulative impacts are recognised as an issue, their management is not specifically addressed. The strategy does not include any timeframes or targets to meet its objectives, making it difficult to assess achievement of outcomes. Development and implementation of the recreation management strategy is identified in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s strategic plan, and resources are allocated in line with the objectives. A decrease in funding in real terms for the joint Field Management Program has focused recreation-related activities on compliance, interpretation and infrastructure maintenance. Stakeholder engagement remains strong through advisory committees and the engagement activities of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority staff, especially those in the regional offices. However, the diversity and informality inherent in the sector presents ongoing challenges to engagement.
An overarching recreation management strategy has improved understanding and coordination.