Marine Park Authority prepares for cyclone Ita

Published: 11/04/2014

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has formed an incident response team to prepare for anticipated damage to marine plants and animals by Severe Tropical Cyclone Ita.

At this time, the Marine Park Authority's foremost thoughts are for the safety of people who will be directly affected by the cyclone.

The agency will seek to conduct field surveys in the coming weeks in the far north of the Marine Park to assess the extent of the impact.

If cyclone Ita remains on its current course and makes landfall near Cooktown, reefs of significant value are highly likely to be affected.

Many of these reefs are currently in very good condition and were not affected to any great extent by cyclone Yasi in 2011.

Though the Reef has a long history of recovery from these natural events, research by the Australian Institute of Marine Science has attributed nearly half of the decline in coral cover across the Great Barrier Reef since 1985 to cyclone damage.

Monitoring by the Marine Park Authority post-cyclone Yasi indicates there are already signs of recovery on many of the reefs which were damaged during the 2011 event.

Ongoing work to boost the Reef’s health and resilience is its best insurance against the damage caused by cyclones and severe weather.

The Marine Park Authority works with communities and industries to implement best practice on the land and out on the water:

  • permits and plans developed by the Authority to ensure activities in the Marine Park are sustainable and don’t impact on the marine environment
  • recent research is showing that coral reefs in protected green zones are likely to recover more quickly from severe impacts such as cyclones
  • a field management program that covers compliance, animal strandings, island conservation, provision of visitor facilities, heritage management and incident response
  • a crown-of-thorns starfish control program, in conjunction with the tourism industry, is culling the coral-eating starfish at popular tourism sites
  • undertaking research and monitoring of reef health, climate change and extreme weather impacts, and water quality to understand the pressures faced by the ecosystem.

Name: GBRMPA media
Contact: (07) 4750 0846