great barrier reef zone
Hardy Reef on the Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Mike McCoy

Don’t zone out on the Reef this summer

KNOW your zones and protect your patch when you’re out on the water this summer — that’s the message from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in the busy holiday period.

With several recreational fishers convicted in recent months for fishing in no-take green zone areas, the Authority’s field management assistant director Ben Kettle said it was a timely reminder for people to check which zones they’ll be in before heading out on the water.

“It might be holidays for most, but this is a busy time of the year for our compliance unit with aerial and vessel patrols running day and night over the Christmas holidays, targeting illegal fishing activities Reef-wide,” Mr Kettle said. “Don’t be complacent about where you are and what you’re doing— if you’re caught poaching in a no-take green zone, you’ll receive a $2100 fine.”

The Authority has renewed calls for marine park users to protect their patch this holiday season by reporting any suspected illegal fishing via an online incident form or 24-hour hotline.

“Any information is invaluable and all reported incidents are taken seriously,” Mr Kettle said. “The local knowledge of marine park users is important in helping us to make sure we’re effective in our surveillance operations and protecting the Reef from illegal activities. If you see someone doing the wrong thing, say something. Our 24-hour hotline enables round the clock reporting and all reports are followed up.”

If you’re planning a Reef trip these holidays, make sure you head to the Authority’s website for your marine parks zoning maps. Mr Kettle said abiding by zoning rules was not only critical for protecting the Reef’s biodiversity, but also helping keep marine park users out of trouble.

“Grab your free zoning map, make sure you know where you are at all times when on the water and what your allowed to do in each zone, and — if you have a GPS — cross-check it with the zoning map,” he said. “The Authority has a strong commitment to protecting the World Heritage Area from illegal activities and we have a no-tolerance approach to poaching in marine national park zones. It’s stealing and it impacts on everyone.”

Zoning maps are available from bait and tackle shops, Community Access Points, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and by contacting the Authority on 1800 990 177.

Report poaching and other suspected illegal activity anonymously via the Authority’s 24-hour hotline: 1800 380 048 or online at www.gbrmpa.gov.au/report-an-incident

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