Rare per­mit is up for grabs

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Daniel Bate­man

AN UL­TRA rare op­por­tu­nity has arisen for a Great Bar­rier Reef tour op­er­a­tor to ob­tain a premier moor­ing at one of the nat­u­ral won­der’s most pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions.

The Great Bar­rier Reef Marine Park Au­thor­ity has been ad­ver­tis­ing for op­er­a­tors to ap­ply for a per­ma­nent la­goon moor­ing at Low Isles with a per­mit for year-round com­mer­cial use.

The once-in-a-life­time per­mit pro­vides for boats up to 35m long, with a max­i­mum of 24 pas­sen­gers on board, and a limit of 22 peo­ple to visit the is­land 365 days a year.

GBRMPA says the ex­ceed­ingly rare com­bi­na­tion per­mit and moor­ing would suit a new oper­at­ing in­tend­ing to ex­pand its busi­ness to Port Dou­glas and the Great Bar­rier Reef.

It would also suit an ex­ist­ing op­er­a­tor based in the area, or a busi­ness that would of­fer an en­hanced char­ter ser­vice to and from Low Isles with the added value that the per­mit and moor­ing lo­ca­tion of­fers.

Low Isles Light­house care- taker Wayne Fox said there was only a hand­ful of moor­ings at the reef des­ti­na­tion.

“They’re ex­tremely hard to get hold of,” he said.

“All other op­er­a­tors, if they want to ac­cess Low Isles, they need per­mits but they only al­low them to visit the is­lands about 50 days a year.

“This par­tic­u­lar moor­ing and per­mit as­so­ci­ated with it is one of the few that al­lows 365day ac­cess.”

Low Isles, which is made up of two is­lands (Woody and Low) is lo­cated 15km off the coast of Port Dou­glas, and is con­sid­ered to be the clos­est part of the Great Bar­rier Reef to main­land Aus­tralia.

The pro­tected sandy co­ral cay has strict vis­i­tor re­stric­tions, due to the abun­dance of sea life, co­ral, and large pop­u­la­tion of sea tur­tles.

Mr Fox said so far it had been a very busy year for the isles.

“It is cer­tainly look­ing at con­tin­u­ing on, par­tic­u­larly com­ing up to our busy part of the year dur­ing win­ter,” he said.

Pic­ture: TTNQ

Snorkelling off Lows Isles

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