HAVING A SAY: Gidarjil CEO Kerry Blackman, State Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett and communication and engagement manager for Burnett Mary Regional Group Dean Collins.
HAVING A SAY: Gidarjil CEO Kerry Blackman, State Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett and communication and engagement manager for Burnett Mary Regional Group Dean Collins. Sarah Steger

Big changes on horizon for Bundy fishermen, conservationists

FOR the first time in 13 years, the Great Sandy Marine Park zoning plan will be reassessed by the State Government, giving local stakeholders a rare opportunity to have their say on the park's future.

Yesterday's release of the Great Sandy Marine Park Discussion Paper - Zoning Plan Opportunities signals the first review of the marine park since its establishment in 2006.

With help from community stakeholders, the discussion paper aims to identify and explore ways to better protect the marine environment in light of growing environmental concerns such as a changing climate, increased tourism, commercial fishing and recreational fishing activity and pollutants coming out of the agricultural sector.

Extending from Baffle Creek to Double Island Point, the Great Sandy Marine Park protects more than 6000sq km along the Bundaberg and Fraser Coast and is home to a diverse range of plants and animals.

The primary matters of conservation interest in the Bundaberg region in relation to the Great Sandy Marine Park include the broad-ecological values provided by Baffle and Littabella creeks, and turtle habitat values in the Moore Park area.

In the 60-page document, the Department of Environment and Science made a number of suggestions to ensure the management of the marine park remained relevant and effective for its long-term conservation and sustainable use. These included:

  • extending the boundary of existing Turtle Protection Areas in the Wide Bay region;
  • establishing a conservation park zone along Moore Park Beach;
  • establishing a marine national park zone in Baffle Creek;
  • introducing a new conservation park zone between Burnett Heads and Burkitt's Reef; and
  • introducing further turtle protection measures such as a go-slow area in the Moore Park area or seasonal-use restrictions, which would prohibit trawling and access restrictions between dusk and dawn (meaning no swimming, fishing, boating or pets allowed).

 

Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett implored local boaties, recreational and commercial fishermen, conservationists and traditional land owners to make a submission during the discussion period, saying it was the community's responsibility to have their say.

Mr Bennett said while it was a balancing act between conservation and sustainable use within the park, "it's our job to explore opportunities to better protect this environment while continuing to allow our recreational and commercial activities to prosper".

A key stakeholder in the marine park's future, Gidarjil CEO Kerry Blackman yesterday told the NewsMail a workshop would be put on to coincide with the release of the discussion paper, in order to ensure the traditional owners of the land's high cultural values were taken into consideration throughout the zoning review.

"If you want to know what affects your sea country you just have to turn around and look at your land country. So it's run-off, urban development, all those things that happen in the land that affect the sea country, so we've got to look at water quality control, other sort of development, tourism, anything that has an impact on (the sea) and our cultural values in the area," he said.

"It's like anything, if you overdo it then you pillage something and you can destroy it by overuse, so I think ... developing better methods to manage agricultural land, commercial fishermen -they have to also look at sustainable practices, and also recreational people, who have to act within the law and how and where they operate as well."

Mr Blackman also touched on potentially increasing Gidarjil's role in the running of the park and "how we might be involved in future management ... to help manage those environmental issues and be proactive rather than reactive".

Burnett Mary Regional Group communication and engagement manager Dean Collins said the group supported "any positive changes" that resulted from the review.

The leading natural resource management group's biggest focus throughout the submission process will be on ensuring the new zoning plan is sustainable.

Submissions close at 5pm on February 25.



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