Reef conservation: $3.2 million boost for reef tour operators



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In a $3.2 million boost for struggling reef tour operators, a number of boats will take to the Great Barrier Reef this week for Reef site monitoring, maintenance and conservation work.

Seventeen marine operators, including Quicksilver Connections, Wavelength Port Douglas, and Experience Co will take part in the $3.2 million initiative which is part of the Australian Government’s $1 billon COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund to support regions severely affected by the COVID-19.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the initiative helped ensure business continuity for the tourism industry as well as helping conserve and protect high-value reef tourism sites.

“We’re delighted to support our passionate tourism operators to monitor reef health, control native pest outbreaks, and conduct restoration activities at local reef sites,” Ms Ley said.

“This important work will help ensure key tourism sites are properly maintained and ready to welcome guests as COVID-19 travel restrictions are eased.”

Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef and Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said the project would support about 300 existing frontline Reef tourism jobs.

He said supporting local jobs on the Reef will be vital for getting Queenslanders back on their feet especially considering the tough times the tourism sector has faced.

“The project aims to provide a degree of business continuity for tourism operations through the provision of key services at 243 high-value tourism sites,” Mr Entsch said.

“Operators will undertake in-water conservation and monitoring activities, including reef health and impact surveys, coral gardening and culling crown-of-thorns starfish.

“Imagery captured of the Reef during these activities will also be used to help keep the Reef top of mind for people nationally and internationally and support tourism recovery campaigns both domestically and overseas.”

Operators will collect important data from in-water surveys through the Authority’s Eye on the Reef system, improving knowledge of reef impacts and recovery.

They will also capture videos and photos to document their activities and enable the Marine Park Authority to share their images with the world, highlighting the beauty of the Reef and our efforts to protect it.

Participating tourism operators were selected through an open tender process run by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

The activities will occur at 234 reefs until 30 June 2021.

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