Marine Park tourism operators open for business after cyclone Ita

Published: 16/04/2014

Tourism operators are already back out on the water after major tourism infrastructure in the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was spared widespread damage from category four cyclone Ita.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority general manager Andrew Skeat said the agency would be conducting underwater surveys in the coming days and weeks to assess the extent of ecological damage to the Reef.

“Teams will be heading out this week to assess damage to coral cover in the impact areas, however tourism operators in Cairns and Port Douglas are reporting that they’ve been able to get back to business quickly because most pontoons, wharves and marinas remain intact,” Mr Skeat said.

“Most tourism operators will be fully operational for the busy Easter period which is a great relief for them as well as holiday makers.

“Fitzroy and Green island resorts have escaped any significant damage and are open and in good condition, while Lizard Island resort, which was in the direct path of the cyclone, is still assessing the extent of the damage.

“Only a few reports of vessel groundings were received, with strong winds causing a yacht to run aground at Lizard Island and another near Airlie Beach. Salvage operations are also underway for a trawler grounded 80 nautical miles east of Mackay.”

Mr Skeat said he anticipates underwater surveys would reveal damage to some reefs in the Marine Park.

“The aim is to survey the Reef while the damage is fresh, establish the spread and severity of the impact and aid recovery where possible,” he said.

“This may include ‘righting’ coral colonies that have been overturned by the extreme weather.

“We are still waiting on reports of how the central and southern parts of the Reef have fared, however we’re not anticipating any lasting impacts in these areas given the cyclone weakened to a category one as it moved down the coast.”

Marine Park users can assist in recovery efforts by being extra careful to anchor away from corals and by following the zoning rules which includes not fishing in green zones.

Visitors can also report any cyclone impacts through the Eye on the Reef’s sightings network. An app is available for download at www.gbrmpa.gov.au.


Name: GBRMPA media
Contact: (07) 4750 0846