Marine park conservation zones could be extended

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Turtle protection areas along the Bundaberg Region coastline could be extended and a conservation zone established at Moore Park Beach under a review of the Great Sandy Marine Park zoning plan.

A discussion paper on the review was released in January and public comments are invited until 25 February.

The marine park extends from Baffle Creek in the north to Double Island Point in the south.

The discussion paper section on the Bundaberg coast from Baffle Creek to the Burnett River identifies “opportunities” to:

  • Maintain a mix of marine park zoning to support a balance between conservation and use;
  • Enhance existing management to support the resilience and health of Baffle Creek;
  • Increase protection of turtles and their habitat in the Moore Park area.

The paper states these opportunities could be achieved by:

  • Introducing seasonal use restrictions or a go-slow area in the Moore Park area similar to Mon Repos;
  • Establishing a conservation park zone along Moore Park Beach;
  • Establishing a marine national park zone in Baffle Creek.

For the Woongarra coast from Burnett Heads to the Elliott River, the primary matters of conservation interest are identified to include turtle nesting at Mon Repos, fringing reefs and the Elliott River.

The discussion plan says zoning opportunities for this area are to:

  • Maintain a mix of marine park zoning to support a balance between conservation and use;
  • Enhance existing management to support the resilience and health of coral communities and protect nesting turtles and their habitat.

These could be achieved by:

  • Extend the boundary of the existing Turtle Protection Area and/or go-slow area seaward;
  • Establish a conservation park zone between Burnett Heads and Burkitts Reef;
  • Establish a marine national park zone over the existing Mon Repos area;
  • Introduce no-anchoring rules at certain locations;
  • Change the marine national park zone boundaries to provide greater protection at Burkitts Reef, Hoffmans Rocks and Barolin Rock;
  • Change evening access restrictions on the beach at Mon Repos.

Establishing new conservation parks would have implications for commercial fishing.

Great Sandy Marine Park discussion paper
A discussion paper has been released on zoning plan opportunities for the Great Sandy Marine Park.

Within a conservation park zone the only form of commercial net fishing that may be undertaken is bait netting (unless the zone is overlain by the designated Great Sandy Area in which case bait netting and other forms of netting are allowed).

A commercial bait net is defined under the zoning plan to be: a cast net, which is no longer than 3.7m and with a mesh size of no more than 28mm; or a small mesh net, which has a mesh size of between 12-45mm and a maximum length of between 200-600m depending on its location of use in the marine park.

The current zoning plan makes provision for non-conforming uses in particular areas, such as commercial crabbing in Elliott River.

The discussion paper says the review provides an opportunity to explore if more contemporary, alternate management approaches to these uses exist.

“This will involve discussions with the relevant operators to discuss potential management options which may include no changes, exploring alternate sites, phasing out an activity over time or some other special management arrangements,” the paper states.

Marine Park aims to achieve balance

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the Great Sandy Marine Park was established to achieve a balance between conservation of the marine environment and its use for recreational, commercial and other activities.

“The review aims to identify and explore opportunities to better protect the marine environment, while continuing to allow for recreational, commercial and other activities to take place in the park,” Ms Enoch said.

“It will look at the existing zoning plan, draw upon the available science, and take into account the feedback provided by stakeholders and the community who live, work and play in and around the marine park.

“Continual improvement of the marine park's management is increasingly important in the face of a changing climate, increased usage and the community's desire for better protection of the values that make the Great Sandy Marine Park such an amazing place.”

Interested people can complete an online survey.

Written comments can be sent to [email protected] by 5pm on Monday, 25 February.

1 COMMENT

  1. Expand marine parks around Barolins up to Burkitts is an excellent idea. Hoffmans rocks has been speared out and marine life loss has noticeably declined in my opinion as a recreational scuba diver. I have noticed it.

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