Reef needs more help

Chair­man calls for reef re­cov­ery

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - Dane Lilling­stone dane.lilling­stone@whit­sun­day­times.com.au

HU­MAN in­ter­ven­tion is needed to help the Great Bar­rier Reef.

That is the mes­sage from Tourism Whit­sun­days chair­man Al Grundy, who says it’s now time to look at how the reef can re­cover post-Cy­clone Deb­bie.

The mes­sage comes on the back of a month where the Great Bar­rier Reef Marine Park Author­ity tem­po­rar­ily re­laxed the rules on touch­ing co­ral in the wake of cy­clone dam­age.

How­ever as of April 26, the re­laxed rules have ended and the nor­mal rules ap­ply.

Mr Grundy met Steven Miles, Min­is­ter for Na­tional Parks and the Great Bar­rier Reef, in the Whit­sun­days last Thurs­day and said he stressed the im­por­tance of reef re­cov­ery pro­grams.

“The leg­is­la­tion was... you just have to leave it (dam­aged co­ral) and let na­ture take its course but what’s hap­pened now is the re­al­i­sa­tion that we can’t just wait, we need to in­ter­vene,” he said.

“The im­por­tant thing for us to get across was that for ev­ery­one to con­tinue to pros­per we need to look as quickly as pos­si­ble to im­ple­ment some restoration pro­grams.

“As tech­nol­ogy ad­vances and we have bet­ter sci­en­tific in­for­ma­tion, the op­por­tu­nity for us are... pro­grams such as co­ral plant­ing and re­gen­er­a­tion pro­grams.”

Mr Grundy said he was pleas­antly sur­prised by strong marine tourism num­bers through April and had praise for the staff and work­ers but also warned it would still take time to get the tourism in­dus­try where it was once was.

“We’ll prob­a­bly be about six months be­fore we hit our straps again,” he said.

As at­ten­tion shifts to how the tourism in­dus­try will get back on its feet, Mr Grundy said im­por­tant steps had al­ready been un­der­taken.

“An in­fra­struc­ture group has al­ready been set up and had their first meet­ing. As the gov­ern­ment grants come in and add fund­ing, we will start to highlight the projects that we see are go­ing to give us the best out­comes and then there will be fully funded projects set up to get un­der way,” he said.

PHOTO: OCEAN RAFT­ING

NO QUICK FIX: Tourism Whit­sun­days chair Al Grundy says hu­man in­ter­ven­tion such as co­ral gar­den­ing is needed to help co­ral re­cover in the Whit­sun­days.

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