Great Sandy Marine plan to protect environment, tourism and great lifestyle

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs The Honourable Meaghan Scanlon

A new blueprint has been unveiled for one of the world’s most spectacular marine parks, focussing on enhanced opportunities for tourism, conservation, and recreational activities.

The Palaszczuk Government today released its draft zoning plan for the Great Sandy Marine Park, which sits between the world’s largest sand island K’gari (Fraser Island) and the Australian mainland, acting as a home to species including whales, dugongs, turtles, and dolphins.

Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said the draft plan would see a further 791km2 of the marine park protected as ‘green zones’ – an increase of 8.9 per cent – and drive new opportunities for the local tourism and recreational fishing economy, currently valued at $421 million.

“The Great Sandy is the gateway to some of the most spectacular places in Queensland, both for humans and marine life,” Minister Scanlon said.

“It’s a popular place for tourists to go whale watching, to witness turtles’ nest, see dolphins, dive with grey nurse sharks, cast a line and travel to K’gari for 4WDing.

“The draft plan proposes to expand areas where marine life can thrive, and in turn support local tourism operators – creating upwards of 70 new good jobs – and families who love to get out on their boat for a day on the water.

The draft plan also includes provisions for more coastal infrastructure such as boat ramps and artificial reefs to support nature-based tourism and recreation fishing.

“With the 2032 Olympics around the corner, the marine park, Hervey Bay and K’gari are in a prime position to become a big drawcard for tourists.

Minister Scanlon said the draft plan had been based on widespread consultation with the local community, First Nations partners and a dedicated scientific reference group.

“This has been an extensive process, but it’s one we want to get right. The next step is to now go out and get feedback on what’s been drafted, so we can refine the final plan.

“Commercial fishing will be allowed in certain areas, and the government will be working with the local fishing industry to create a financial assistance and re-training package to support those directly-impacted by any changes from the draft plan.”

The draft plan also proposes expanding go slow areas to protect turtles and dugongs, as well as existing seasonal restrictions to shorebird sites during nesting periods.

Member for Hervey Bay Adrian Tantari said the region, and in particular, Hervey Bay, is the home of whale watching and nature-based tourism in Queensland – and that it’s important to protect its most valuable asset for generations to come.

“Our region is only a hop, skip and a jump from SEQ, which already makes it already a popular destination for visitors,” Mr Tantari said.

“The draft plan proposes to strengthen what is truly great about the Great Sandy Park area and our regional lifestyle. Ensuring the protection our great nature asset for future generations, whilst growing our local tourism and recreational sector that injects close to half-a-billion dollars into our economy.”

To view the full draft plan and to have your say head to: www.qld.gov.au/greatsandymarinepark

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