School holidays are a great time to explore the Great Barrier Reef and its islands, but there is one holiday essential to pick up before you head out on the water — your zoning map.
Maps of different zones in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park show areas open to fishing and those with restrictions in place.
Zoning maps can also be used to cross check locations with a GPS.
Green zones (or no-take areas) make up about a third of the Marine Park and are in place to protect the biodiversity of the Reef — they cover close coastal areas and remote offshore areas.
Research into the effectiveness of zoning shows there are more and bigger reef fish such as coral trout in green zones than areas open to fishing. When these fish breed, offspring are carried by currents into areas open to fishing, helping to replenish stocks.
Green zones are open to boating, swimming and snorkelling.
Free zoning maps are available from bait and tackle shops, visitor information centres, and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol offices.
Zoning maps can also be downloaded from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority website or by calling 1800 990 177.
Visitors planning to stay out overnight and camp on an island national park can obtain camping permits from Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service offices, by phoning 13 QGOV (13 74 68) or at www.npsr.qld.gov.au.