The latest weapon in protecting the Great Barrier Reef has been officially unveiled in Gladstone today with the launch of a $9.7 million state of the art Reef Resilience vessel bringing new capabilities in compliance, surveying and research.
The 24-metre Reef Resilience, jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland governments under the Reef Joint Field Management Program will enter service next week and will significantly enhance the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s capabilities in undertaking compliance patrols, field activities with Traditional Owners and Indigenous rangers, protected species management and incident response.
Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley and the Queensland Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Meaghan Scanlon officially launched the Reef Resilience, which will patrol the southern half of the Reef, at its Gladstone home port today.
“This is yet another important and practical investment in reef protection, one that will substantially increase our capacity for field operations and in protecting the reef from illegal activities including illegal fishing that can have a massive impact on ecosystems,” Minister Ley said.
“The Reef Resilience revolutionises how field activities are undertaken across a massive area that is exposed to challenging weather conditions and which can often be difficult to access in less capable vessels.
“With 16 berths, three tender support vessels, and a larger rigid-hulled inflatable boat for compliance and enforcement activities, the Reef Resilience is an impressive floating ranger base.
“It is capable of reaching the remotest locations in the southern Great Barrier Reef and delivering multiple tasks simultaneously.
“We have a similar vessel already operating in the northern part of the Reef and this means the entire World Heritage Area is benefitting.”
Queensland Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said the Reef Resilience would greatly enhance island and protected species management, and in-water surveys.
“The Queensland Government is investing almost $1 billion this year to protect the environment and create jobs, including funding this new reef vessel,” Ms Scanlon said.
“The Reef Resilience transforms our management capability for our amazing island national parks, better allowing visitors and tourism operators to enjoy all the opportunities the World Heritage Area has to offer.
“It allows our rangers to more efficiently and effectively maintain island campgrounds and the network of public moorings, and enhance our management of protected species like marine turtles and seabirds.
“Supporting rangers, Traditional Owners, Indigenous Rangers, and researchers to deliver a range of activities at the same time is exactly what this amazing vessel is designed to do.”
Federal Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd said the new vessel would service the Great Barrier Reef from its home port in Gladstone.
“Gladstone has a proud boating history and is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef so it is only fitting that it acts as the home of the Reef’s newest patrol vessel,” Mr O’Dowd said.
State Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said Reef Resilience can cruise at 20 knots, can cover more than 2000 nautical miles, and uses solar panels mounted on the roof to maximize the use of available renewable energy and reduce environmental impact.
“It accommodates up to 16 people for overnight voyages and can carry additional support vessels and up to six tonnes of cargo on the upper deck,” Mr Butcher said.
For over 40 years, the Australian and Queensland governments’ Reef Joint Field Management Program has planned and executed field operations in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
The addition of the Reef Resilience is part of the Program’s significant expansion, with additional funding, improved vessels, and more staff to better undertake fieldwork and incident response in this iconic and vast World Heritage Area.
Both Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the modernisation of the Reef Joint Field Management Program’s vessel fleet by announcing the upgrading of the vessel Tamoya, the primary workboat that services the Whitsundays. The Tamoya replacement will enter service later this year.