While the past few weeks have been challenging for communities worldwide, Reef authorities are continuing vital work to protect the Great Barrier Reef; particularly in the face of severe and widespread coral bleaching.
A key component of this is in-park surveillance, with on-water and aerial patrols continuing to detect illegal fishing activities that damage the Reef and threaten its ability to recover from external pressures.
Reef Joint Field Management Program director Chris Cochrane said marine parks patrolling would continue to be a priority over Easter.
“The Marine Park Authority acknowledges the extreme impact COVID-19 is having on Reef industries and their communities,” he said.
“Community members should ensure they are up-to-date with all government health and safety requirements at this time and follow that advice.
“We are seeing high rates of recreational fishing out on the water and, unfortunately, some recreational fishers believe there’s an opportunity to poach in no-take green zones, assuming that there will be no or limited patrolling.
“This is not the case — protecting the Reef is a critical function and more than ever with mass coral bleaching affecting the Reef this year.
“Patrols will be undertaken day and night, particularly at known illegal fishing hotspots — if you fish in a green zone, you can expect to be caught.”
Mr Cochrane reminded fishers to know where they’re going and what’s allowed by using a free zoning map, understanding how to use their chart plotters, and downloading the free Eye on the Reef App, which works outside of mobile range to pinpoint the on-water location, identify the zone, and show the relevant rules that apply.
Fishers can find more information about the app and how to help protect their special patch of the Reef here.
The Marine Park Authority wishes the Reef community a safe and enjoyable Easter. For more information about being Reef Smart, see here.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service are partners in the Reef Joint Field Management Program: a 40-year program dedicated to protecting the Great Barrier Reef.
Image caption: Aerial and on-water patrols will be protecting the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park from illegal fishers this Easter. © GBRMPA