Call to marine parks users: Help to protect the Reef this summer

Are you heading out to your favourite Reef or island over the holidays? The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and its partners are calling on you to do your bit to help #LovetheReef.

Fishers need to know the marine parks zones and what’s allowed, especially with emerging science showing reefs in no-take green zones recover up to 20 per cent faster than adjacent reefs outside green zones. Green zones are also more resilient to the impacts of crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks, coral disease and extreme weather events, like cyclones.

Those out enjoying and protecting the Reef are urged to report suspected illegal activity, with the combined impact of offences like illegal recreational fishing posing an unacceptable threat to this global icon. Reports can be made anonymously to the free 24-hour hotline: 1800 380 048 (include details such as the date of the offence, location of the vessel and description of the activity). Information provided by members of the public contributes towards the protection of the Reef.

Boaties can also help by anchoring on sand, not coral, or using a mooring or an electric motor. Also, go slow over seagrass meadows and coral reefs and look out for those below to avoid injuring animals like dugongs and turtles.

Whether you’re on the water, or on an island, make sure you take all rubbish with you — marine debris can be dangerous to wildlife.

Respect other island national park rules by leaving domestic animals at home, staying on marked tracks and taking care not to spread pest species. Check your boat, clothing, footwear and gear are free of soil, seeds, parts of plants, eggs, insects, spiders, lizards, toads, rats and mice. Pest species can be devastating to these World Heritage Areas.

This stewardship request follows significant and widespread impacts to the Great Barrier Reef over the past two years, including back-to-back summers of severe mass coral bleaching, a severe tropical cyclone and an ongoing crown-of-thorns starfish outbreak.

By taking these actions now we can all help to protect the healthy parts of Reef, while giving impacted sections the best chance of recovery.

Holiday tips to #LovetheReef

How fishers can help
  • Anonymously report suspected illegal fishing activity: 1800 380 048 or online
  • Use a GPS and cross-check it with a free zoning map, or download the free Eye on the Reef App to access zoning
  • Understand how no-take zones work to safeguard the Reef and fish stocks
  • Avoid taking herbivores like parrotfish, which remove seaweed and provide space for new corals to grow
How all marine parks users can help
  • Don’t anchor on coral — use a public mooring or find sand
  • Go slow over seagrass meadows and coral reefs to avoid injuring marine animals
  • Take all rubbish with you and dispose of it on the shore
  • Keep island national parks pest free by helping to stop the spread of pest animals and weeds
  • Contribute to valuable Reef knowledge by reporting what you see on the Eye on the Reef App
How the national and global community can help
  • Buy local food and avoid excess plastic packaging, and invest in containers to store holiday leftovers
  • Think about the environmental footprint of your purchases: Will it be discarded quickly or is it single-use? Does it contain a lot of plastic? Does it require disposable batteries?
  • If you’re having a holiday clean-out, donate your clothes and other unwanted items to a charity shop
  • Reduce your energy consumption by using solar-powered lights where possible
  • Think about what you are putting down your drain – it could potentially end up in the ocean. Choose environmentally-friendly cleaning products.

Stay tuned for more ways you can help #LovetheReef as we enter 2018 — the International Year of the Reef.