Eye On the Reef gets its eye in

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS -

TOURISM op­er­a­tors are show­ing more in­ter­est than ever in pro­tect­ing the Great Bar­rier Reef with record num­bers at­tend­ing Eye of the Reef train­ing ses­sions.

Since 2009, trained op­er­a­tors and their crews have submitted thou­sands of sur­veys and in­for­ma­tion on reef health through the mon­i­tor­ing pro­gram run by the Great Bar­rier Reef Ma­rine Park Author­ity.

Ma­rine Park Author­ity as­sis­tant di­rec­tor tourism and ed­u­ca­tion Fiona Merida said sur­vey work­shops and in-water train­ing ses­sions at Cairns, Port Dou­glas and the Whit­sun­days at­tracted al­most 100 crew mem­bers rep­re­sent­ing more than 20 dif­fer­ent tourism op­er­a­tors.

“Train­ing regis­tra­tions ex­ceeded all ex­pec­ta­tions and it was amaz­ing to see so many tourism staff com­mit­ted to help­ing pro­tect the Reef,” Ms Merida said.

“Trainees learned how they can con­trib­ute to reef man­age­ment and help in­form state of the reef re­ports, and per­formed prac­ti­cal, in-water sur­veys where they iden­ti­fied health con­di­tions on the reef and recorded their ob­ser­va­tions.”

Ms Merida said true suc­cess came from crews tak­ing what they’ve learned and com­plet­ing fu­ture sur­veys as part of their day-to-day du­ties on the Reef.

“Once the tourism op­er­a­tors get back on the water, they will pro­vide valu­able, quick and ef­fi­cient weekly sur­veys to build an early warn­ing and trend record of health at adopted dive sites,” Ms Merida said.

“These weekly sur­veys are just one of sev­eral mon­i­tor­ing and re­port­ing meth­ods de­liv­ered through the Eye on the Reef pro­gram, which also in­volves ma­rine sci­en­tists and rangers.

“We hope they will add to their skills through the Eye on the Reef pro­gram,” she said.

Train­ing ses­sions were held in the Whit­sun­days on Wed­nes­day May 23 and Thurs­day May 24.

Any­one out on the water can also con­trib­ute their knowl­edge on reef-wide ecosys­tem health and re­silience by get­ting in­volved in the Eye on the Reef pro­gram.

PHOTO: WWF/EARTH HOUR

REEF PRO­TECT: Pro­tect­ing the Great Bar­rier Reef is the top is­sue for Aus­tralians

PHOTO: MA­RINE PARK AUTHOR­ITY

UN­DER THE SEA: Record num­bers at­tended Eye of the Reef train­ing ses­sions.

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