Published Friday, 14 November, 1997 at 12:00 AM

Minister for Environment
The Honourable Brian Littleproud

The community and government can work together to protect the conservation interests of Moreton Bay Marine Park under a plan approved by the State Government, Environment Minister Brian Littleproud said today.

The Moreton Bay Marine Park Zoning Plan covers an area from Caloundra, around Bribie Island including Pumicestone Passage, around Stradbroke islands to the Gold Coast Seaway.

Development of the plan over several years has address many issues including fishing and trawling, dredging, threatened species, development and obligations under the international Ramsar Wetlands convention.

Mr Littleproud said the plan would be implemented progressively in conjunction with an extensive community information and education campaign.

Dredging: The area around Green Island will become a Conservation Zone where dredging will not be permitted. Mr Littleproud said dredging would not be compatible with a Conservation Zone, the purpose of which includes conservation of the zone's natural resources and natural condition as far as possible, and to ensure only ecologically sustainable use.

"An early end, hopefully around Christmas, is also expected to coral extraction at Mud and St Helena islands, which have been zoned General Use and Habitat zones," he said.

Threatened species: The interests of several species have been taken into account in the plan: the endangered loggerhead turtle; the vulnerable green and hawksbill turtles, dugong, humpback whale, little tern and beach thicknee; the rare eastern curlew and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin.

Under the plan a Special Management Area has been introduced for the conservation of sea-turtle and dugong populations, primarily to reduce the incidence of injury or mortality caused by boats and other craft such as jet skis. The area will primarily cover areas of seagrass over the Moreton and Amity banks and the reef adjacent to the northern side of Peel Island.

Hovercraft will be banned in Pumicestone Passage.

Conservation of shorebird species such as the eastern curlew and little tern have also been addressed in the plan, with provisions to prevent undue disturbance to the birds and their habitat.

Fishing: This has been a contentious issue in developing the plan, particularly with regard to perceived conflict between recreational and commercial fishing in Conservation Zones.

This is to be addressed through Management and Zonal Advisory Committees under the Fisheries Act.

The plan does not allow for trawling in the Conservation Zone. The main effect of this restriction will be to limit trawling on the Moreton and Amity banks of the South Passage area. This has been supported by the Queensland Fisheries Management Authority and the Queensland Commercial Fishermen's Authority.

Other issues include:

* Six areas have been zoned Protection', including Flinders Reef, north-west quadrant of Peel Island Reef, Willets Islets, Swan Bay, Tripcony Bight and McCoys Creek, with the major effect of prohibiting fishing and collecting, particularly recreational line fishing and spear fishing.

* The Marine Park extends southwards to the Gold Coast Seaway including sections of the Broadwater subject to numerous development applications. Apart from one Protection Zone area, where only minor works are permitted, the remainder is Conservation Zone where major works may be permitted if a public interest requirement is met. For the area between Jacobs Well and the Coomera River, some proposed developments are outside the Marine Park, while others will need to be modified to meet zoning plan requirements.

* To protect shorebirds from undue disturbance, dogs will need to be controlled or restrained, and vehicles, boats and other craft will be required to ensure minimum disturbance when near feeding or roosting shorebirds.

Funding this year for management of the Marine Park is nearly $1 million.

Mr Littleproud said the zoning plan would be phased in as an extensive community education campaign would be needed to make people using the Moreton Bay Marine Park aware of the plan. Extensive consultation had already been carried out in developing the plan, and this would continue as would monitoring and evaluation.