Raine Island Moulter Cay and MacLennan Cay Site Management Arrangements

Raine Island, Moulter and Maclennan Cays and the surrounding seas are managed to foster and ensure the conservation and management of the natural and cultural heritage resources. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Sevice (QPWS) manages the islands and surrounding intertidal areas and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has jurisdiction over the waters below mean low water.

Raine Island and Moulter and Maclennan Cays collectively make up the Raine Island National Park (Scientific), which is protected under Queensland’s Nature Conservation Act 1992. The area is widely known for the abundance of marine turtles and seabirds that use the islands for nesting.

Current management arrangements

  • The waters adjacent to Raine Island and Moulter and Maclennan Cays are within a Marine National Park (Green) Zone of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Queensland Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park. The Marine National Park (Green) Zone is a ‘look but don’t take’ area where fishing and other extractive activities are not allowed unless specifically permitted.
  • There is also a Restricted Access – Special Management Area extending from high water out to 500m from each island. You cannot enter the area unless you:
  1. have a Marine Parks permit from the GBRMPA and QPWS specifically allowing that access;
  2. or are accessing the island or cay and you have a QPWS permit to access that island or cay.
  • The Restricted Access Special Management Areas extend vertically to a height of 915m.
  • Raine Island, Maclennan Cay and Moulter Cay are designated as a National Park (Scientific). Entry is by permit only, and limited to authorised persons undertaking management activities or scientific research or monitoring. View more information on Raine Island National Park (Scientific) or view the Raine Island National Park (Scientific) management statement 2006-2016 produced by the QPWS.
  • The GBRMPA and QPWS have developed a position statement setting out access arrangements to these locations.
  • The Remote Natural Area covers all locations within the entire Far Northern Management Area. The objective of the Remote Natural Area is to ensure that some areas of the Marine Park remain in a state that is largely unaltered by works or facilities, and to provide opportunities for quiet appreciation and enjoyment of those areas.
  • Within the Remote Natural Area, motorised water sports are prohibited and the Regulations also limit the carrying out of certain works including the dumping of spoil, reclamation, beach protection works or harbour works, and the construction of structures other than vessel moorings and navigational aids.
  • The State of Queensland has signed an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (Area Agreement) with the Traditional Owners of the region – the Wuthathi people of Cape York and the Erubam Le, Meriam Le and Ugarem Le of the Torres Straits. This encompasses Raine Island, Maclennan Cay and Moulter Cay and surrounding waters out to three nautical miles from the high water mark of these islands.

Future management arrangements

  • The GBRMPA and QPWS are developing guidelines for research and commercial photography, filming and sound recording for these locations.

Natural values

Marine turtles
  • Raine Island has been a nesting site for green turtles for over 1000 years (the longest known marine turtle rookery anywhere in the world).
  • The green turtles that nest at Raine Island are part of the world’s largest remaining stocks. They belong to the northern Great Barrier Reef genetic stock that nest throughout the northern Great Barrier Reef (north of Princess Charlotte Bay) and eastern Torres Strait.
  • The numbers of turtles using Raine Island fluctuates by orders of magnitude (100s to 10 000s) between years. This fluctuation is correlated with the El Niño Southern Oscillation measured in the previous 18 months.
  • There are biological indications that the northern Great Barrier Reef genetic stock of green turtles may be in the early stages of a population decline.
Seabirds
  • Eighty-four bird species have been recorded at Raine Island - five of these are considered uncommon/rare in Queensland. Sixteen species are known to breed on the island.
  • Comparison of bird populations between 1979-1993 and 1994-2003 suggest population decline in 13 of the 16 species over the 24-year period. The combined averages for all 16 species indicate a total population reduction of the rookery by 16 347 birds or 69.7 per cent.
  • The five species with greater than 60 per cent reductions in mean population estimates are: red-footed booby (67.9 per cent), lesser frigatebird (67.6 per cent), bridled tern (69.1 per cent), sooty tern (84.4 per cent) and common noddy (95.5 per cent).
  • The most significant breeding species is the herald petrel, listed as critically endangered in Australia under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, with the red-tailed tropicbird listed as vulnerable in Queensland under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.