CORAL PROJECTS DIS­CUSSED

Ques­tions asked on fix for our reef

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - Sharon Small­wood sharon.small­wood@ whit­sun­day­times.com.au

HOW can the Great Bar­rier Reef Marine Park Author­ity help the Whit­sun­days in the wake of Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Deb­bie?

This was one of the ma­jor talk­ing points when GBRMPA rep­re­sen­ta­tives came to the re­gion last week.

On Thurs­day, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from GBRMPA met with tourism op­er­a­tors, in­dus­try lead­ers and mem­bers of the Whit­sun­day com­mu­nity, with dis­cus­sions fo­cussed on what ac­tions needed to be taken, where they needed to oc­cur and what the ex­pected out­comes would be.

GBRMPA’s direc­tor of tourism and stew­ard­ship Fred Nu­ci­fora said the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s chair­man, Dr Rus­sell Re­ichelt, had “ba­si­cally been very open in say­ing that ev­ery sug­ges­tion is on the ta­ble now”.

It was gen­er­ally agreed that site as­sess­ments had been ham­pered by poor vis­i­bil­ity caused by the cat­e­gory four storm.

Nev­er­the­less, Mr Nu­ci­fora said GBRMPA had been work­ing with the team at Queens­land Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice, who had al­ready been to some

88 sites.

From the data avail­able so far, it ap­pears the outer reefs have fared rea­son­ably well, while the fring­ing reefs in ex­posed bays on some of the Whit­sun­day is­lands bore the brunt of Deb­bie’s wrath.

Mr Nu­ci­fora said as of last week, ap­proval was go­ing to be granted to the Queens­land Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice to move coral rub­ble in the in­ter­tidal ar­eas back into the water.

He said this would cre­ate some of the struc­ture needed for coral to grow on.

Biorock – an ar­ti­fi­cial means of restor­ing struc­ture – was also dis­cussed.

“We’ve been talk­ing a lot about coral nurs­eries, coral gar­dens, coral prop­a­ga­tion projects, biorock, elec­tro-min­eral accretion (which is the same thing but you just zap it a lit­tle bit) – so yes, those things are on the ta­ble,” Mr Nu­ci­fora said.

Also dis­cussed were ‘no fin’ poli­cies for some ar­eas, pro­tect­ing her­bi­vores, crown-of-thorns starfish con­trol and the pos­si­bil­ity of a mora­to­rium on changes to the Whit­sun­day Plan of Man­age­ment.

Full story on­line at whit­sun­day­times.com.au.

PHOTO: CHRIS MCLENNAN

HOPE: The Whit­sun­days' Hardy Reef, seen here pre-cy­clone, will open to day tours again soon.

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