No anchoring areas protect Keppel reefs

Published: 21/06/2012

Community-initiated no anchoring areas are helping to protect reefs around the Keppel Islands in the southern Great Barrier Reef.

Recent surveys in the Keppel Bay region showed that reefs inside the areas off limits to anchoring had much less physical damage than before the protection measures were put in place.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) Climate Change and Science Coordination Director Paul Marshall said the voluntary no anchoring areas were introduced in November 2008 as part of a wider program to build reef resilience.

"The reefs in Keppel Bay have a history of exposure to stresses such as floods and coral bleaching," Dr Marshall said.

"Local actions to build their resilience are crucial to their ability to cope with these stresses."

He said the GBRMPA had worked closely with the local community to identify sites with a history of severe anchor damage.

"Based on that collaboration, we established no anchoring areas at Humpy Island, Barren Island, Big Peninsula and Monkey Beach Reef."

Staff from the GBRMPA and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service assessed anchor damage and reef condition at those sites in December 2008.

They did follow-up Reef Health and Impact Surveys in January 2010, June 2011 and February 2012.

Dr Marshall said the follow-up surveys showed a marked decrease in anchor damage inside no anchoring areas compared to areas where anchoring occurred.

“It shows us that the no anchoring areas are working - that they’re an effective management tool to decrease local stress on coral reefs.”

Dr Marshall said the Keppels region was an excellent example of Reef stewardship in action.

“The local community, through the Capricorn Coast Local Marine Advisory Committee, has played an important role in looking after reefs in the Keppel Islands.

"They identified no anchoring areas as a way of protecting vulnerable reefs from further damage and they were actively involved in selecting the sites most in need of protection.

"The wider boating community has also demonstrated good stewardship by voluntarily complying with the no anchoring areas."

Dr Marshall said measures such as voluntary no anchoring areas helped build the Reef’s resilience.

“Healthier reefs are able to recover faster from disturbance and the installation of the reef protection markers will help reefs at the Keppels cope with future stresses."


Name: GBRMPA Media
Contact: 07 4750 0846