Community representatives hear plans for local Reef protection

Published: 10/10/2014

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) will use a two-day workshop to outline the approach it will take at a local level to improve the health and resilience of one of the world’s greatest natural wonders.

Chairs and members of 12 Local Marine Advisory Committees will meet in Townsville this weekend with senior agency staff to discuss issues relating to reef protection.

GBRMPA Chairman Russell Reichelt said he welcomed the opportunity to present the agency’s priority projects, which will be implemented over the next five years.

“Our Local Marine Advisory Committees include representatives such as tour operators, Traditional Owners, farmers, fishers and conservationists, so they provide a real cross-section of the coastal communities that will play a pivotal role in helping us to achieve a better outlook for the Reef,” Dr Reichelt said.

“We are acutely aware of the pressures the Reef faces, and will be using this gathering to outline our targets for habitat and species protection, and how we’ll seek to achieve them.

“Extensive monitoring and actions to restore and reconnect coastal ecosystems that are important to the health of the Reef are among a raft of new initiatives to be rolled out in partnership with the Australian and Queensland governments.”

Dr Reichelt said in the northern third of the Great Barrier Reef region, the agency will focus on maintaining the area’s good condition, while further south the focus will be on reducing impacts.

“Climate change, poor water quality from catchment run-off, impacts from coastal development and some fishing activities, including illegal fishing, remain the highest risks for the Reef,” he said.

“Some of the impacts operate at large scales, while others affect the Reef’s environmental, cultural and heritage values on a local or regional scale, and that’s where we will need the strong support of coastal communities and industries.

“At the same time, the Reef is so large that we will need to recognise the variability of the ecosystem over such a vast expanse, and the different issues and interests of communities and industries in each region.

“This is the approach we’ll be taking with our Reef Recovery program, which will seek to restore individual sites along the coastline.

“This program will identify areas where restoration of previously modified habitats will have the most positive effects on improving reef water quality. It means working closely with partners at a local level to reduce cumulative impacts and build resilience, region-by-region, bay-by-bay.

“We already see some tremendous on-the-ground work by the tourism industry, Reef Guardian schools, councils, farmers and graziers, and community groups. Our aim is to use these and other efforts as a strong foundation to build upon.”

Other issues on the agenda for the workshop include identifying priority issues for individual regions, and a review of the recently released Outlook Report 2014 and Reef 2050 Long-term Sustainability Plan.

Representatives on the Local Marine Advisory Committees give their time voluntarily to advise the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on marine issues and undertake regional environmental projects.

The committees operate in the Cape York, Douglas, Cairns, Cassowary Coast, Hinchinbrook, Townsville, Bowen–Burdekin, Whitsundays, Mackay, Capricorn Coast, Gladstone and Burnett regions.

Name: GBRMPA media
Contact: (07) 4750 0846