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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Premier of Queensland
    The Honourable Peter Beattie


    Premier of Queensland
    The Honourable Peter Beattie

    Tuesday, April 18, 2006



    No sea cages for Great Sandy Region.

    Intensive sea cage aquaculture will be prohibited in the Great Sandy Marine Park under the zoning plan released by the State Government today.

    In a joint announcement of the decision, the Premier, Deputy Premier and Minister for the Environment said the zoning plan ensured a balance between the environment and the needs of local families and communities who were dependant upon the region for their livelihood.

    “The Great Sandy Marine Park will protect wildlife including dugongs, turtles, humpback whales, and grey nurse sharks while allowing for commercial and recreational fishing to continue,” Mr Beattie said.

    Environment Minister Desley Boyle said the Great Sandy Marine Park absorbs the existing Woongarra and Hervey Bay Marine Parks and at 6000 square kilometres is nearly three times their size.

    “It will stretch from Baffle Creek in the north to Double Island Point in the south and wraps around Fraser Island,” Ms Boyle said.

    “Fraser Island remains World Heritage Listed and is the centre piece in the Great Sandy Marine Park.

    “With regard to the zoning plan, this is as hard as it gets. We have had to balance commercial fishing interests with the large number of recreational fishers, local and visitors, and tourism interests while at the same time protecting the environment that attracts people to the area in the first place.

    Deputy Premier, Treasurer and State Development Minister Anna Bligh said aquaculture in the area will be limited to rack and line and ranching methods for oyster, scallop and sea cucumber production.

    “We have achieved the balance between sustainable development of the marine aquaculture industry and low environmental impact,” Ms Bligh said.

    “There is enormous potential for the cultivation of high value, low-impact products such as edible oysters, pearl oysters, and scallops.

    “Forecasts show growth of up to 1,250 jobs could be generated in this area alone over the next decade if the sea ranching and rack and line marine aquaculture sectors are allowed to grow.

    “While parts of the region were considered suitable for fish farms – or sea cage aquaculture – and the environmental impact was considered moderate, we have decided to prohibit the practice."

    The Premier said there is a huge potential to increase the size of Queensland’s seafood industry and aquaculture sector but that it had to be done in a responsible way.

    “Queensland offers a host of advantages for marine aquaculture production and processing including, clean, unpolluted waters and proximity to major seafood markets in the Asia-Pacific region.

    “As a result, Queensland will be well placed to help satisfy the growing global demand for sustainable seafood products well into the future,” he said.

    Ms Bligh said the Great Sandy Region is an excellent example of an area where these advantages exist. We need to make the most of them to ensure Queensland makes inroads into this valuable sector.

    “The declaration of the Great Sandy Marine Park will also give a major boost to the area’s tourism industry,” she said.

    “The tourism industry in the area employs about 15,000 Queenslanders and more than a million people from around the world are attracted to the Great Sandy region every year.

    “That accounts for about 10 per cent of Queensland’s total numbers of domestic and international tourists each year who contribute about $500 million to the regional economy.

    “The declaration of the marine park will further enhance those numbers and will be a major contributor to the tourism industry and the local economy,” Ms Bligh said.

    Ms Boyle said the decision was about finding a fair way forward while balancing out all the interests.

    “The zoning plan will be reviewed in five years,” the Environment Minister said.

    “In the meantime, scientific studies will be done to monitor the sustainability of the fishery and the health of the environment,” Ms Boyle said.

    Member for Hervey Bay Andrew McNamara welcomed the Great Sandy zoning plan and described it as balanced.

    "I'm pleased that Hervey Bay's vibrant fishing sector that provides so many jobs and so much export income will continue,” Mr McNamara said.

    Details of protection provided to wildlife and habitat include:

    Coral Habitats

    Significant coral communities occur within the Great Sandy region, especially along the Woongarra coastline, off Rooney Point on Fraser Island, around Little Woody, Big Woody, Burkitts Reef, and at Wolf Rock. Deep-water reefs also occur at Southern Gutters and 25 Fathom Hole. These areas have been zoned as either Conservation Park or Marine National Park to protect the significance of these habitats.

    Sponge Gardens

    Located at Little Woody Island, most of the Sponge Gardens are protected by a Marine National Park Zone. The area of reef contains spectacular sponges found on coarse coral grit as well as hard and soft corals, hydroids, gorgonia, sea pens, and small reefs of wormshell.

    Turtle Rookeries

    The greatest accumulation of turtles feeding and breeding is along the Woongarra coastline, which has been zoned as either Marine National Park Zones or Conservation Park Zones. Three designated areas are also specific to the protection of turtles, including the Mon Repos designated area and the turtle monitoring and protection areas. Other feeding areas within the marine park are also protected by zoning, such as Sandy Cape.

    Dugong Habitat

    Hervey Bay contains the largest seagrass beds in eastern Australia (estimated at 2,500 km2). Seagrass areas are protected at numerous locations throughout the marine park. A significant seagrass community north of Burrum River is zoned Marine National Park while other areas are protected from trawling by Habitat Protection Zones.

    Go slow zones throughout the marine park will protect dugongs and turtles from boat strike. They are found along the Woongarra coastline, Big Woody Island, south of Burrum River, and areas near Boonooroo and Tinnanbar in the Great Sandy Strait.

    Mangrove Ecosystems

    A number of estuaries and islands have been specifically zoned for the protection of mangrove communities. These include Turkey Island, Baffle Creek, Burrum River, Walsh Island, Bookar Island, as well as the creeks and rivers on Fraser Island, such as Wathumba Creek and Coongul Creek. The need to protect mangrove communities is to essential as they are support and shelter for fish, birds and other marine life and help reduce erosion

    Grey Nurse Sharks at Wolf Rock

    Grey Nurse Sharks are listed as ‘endangered’. Wolf Rock is one of five identified key sites for grey nurse sharks in south-east Queensland. Wolf Rock is zoned as Marine National Park and a Grey Nurse Shark designated area has been placed over the site to manage entry and use of the area.


    Humpback whales (classified as ‘vulnerable’) are regular visitors to the area and they use Hervey Bay as an important stop over on their annual southern migration. A designated area has been placed at Platypus Bay (which represents the area currently zoned as the Hervey Bay Marine Park) to manage the entry and use of this area.

    Media Contacts:

    Premier’s Office 3224 4500

    Deputy Premier's Office 3224 6900