AIMS still has plans to re­in­stall reef cam

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - Peter Car­ruthers peter.car­ruthers@ whit­sun­day­times.com.au

A LO­CAL fish­er­man has raised safety con­cerns about outer-reef fish­ing trips af­ter 12 months of head­ing to the reef “blind”.

Usu­ally when head­ing to the Great Bar­rier Reef af­ter check­ing weather re­ports the next safe­guard was to log on and check the Hardy Reef we­b­cam at­tached to the Cruise Whit­sun­days pon­toon.

But since Cy­clone Deb­bie hit the Whit­sun­days in March, this has not been pos­si­ble.

Op­er­a­tor of the web cam, the Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Marine Sci­ence, con­firmed it ceased op­er­a­tion last year and had not pro­vided live vi­sion of the reef since.

Scott Bain­bridge who runs the AIMS weather sta­tion pro­ject said the cam­era and un­der­wa­ter sen­sors were lost when the pon­toon was de­stroyed last year dur­ing TC Deb­bie.

The AIMS web­site has the cam­era’s sta­tus listed as “off­line”.

Mr Bain­bridge said there were plans to re­in­stall the cam­era.

“They are an im­por­tant data source for this part of the reef and so are a crit­i­cal part of our net­work,” he said. “We are wait­ing for the re­place­ment pon­toon to be ready as we have been asked to not in­stall a tem­po­rary sta­tion but to wait for the fi­nal re­place­ment pon­toon, when that is in place we will re­place the sta­tion.”

Although used by AIMS to track in real-time warm-weather events which cause co­ral bleach­ing, Mr Bain­bridge said it was also used by tourist op­er­a­tors and lo­cal boat­ies.

“I al­ways check it be­fore head­ing out,” a lo­cal fish­er­man said.

“The near­est weather sta­tion to us is at Creal Reef and that is a fairly long way away. But it is out in the ocean. You can’t look at the one in Mackay as it is on the main­land.

“But the weather be­tween Creal Reef and here can be 10 knots dif­fer­ence some­times and you just don’t know what the weather is do­ing.”

Creal Reef is about 60kms due north-east of Mackay.

The Hardy Reef cam­era also pro­vided in­for­ma­tion such as hu­mid­ity and wind speed for recre­ational boat users.

“It gave you the ac­tual weather and it was only an hour away and you could look at the cam­era and see if it was rough or not,” the fish­er­man said.

“Ev­ery time you went out you would look at the cam­era.”

❝look You could at the cam­era and see it it was rough or not.

— lo­cal fish­er­man

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