Great Sandy Marine Park

The unique beauty of the Fraser Coast attracts tourists from around the world – but the current Great Sandy zoning plan has failed to protect marine life. 

We have an opportunity to ensure the Queensland Government commits to a new zoning plan for the Great Sandy – one which will see increased protection for threatened species.

The proposed new zoning will:

  • End destructive gillnet fishing in the Conservation Park Zones (the designated Great Sandy Area), where these nets entangle and kill threatened species like turtles and dugongs.
  • Expand and increase the number of go-slow areas to enhance protection for dugongs and turtles from boat strikes.
  • Increase the area covered by marine sanctuaries – the highly protected parts of marine parks where no fishing, dumping, or oil and gas extraction is allowed, but we can visit and enjoy seeing the wildlife. More sanctuary zones will include protection for seagrasses, creating safe havens for iconic marine life to feed and rest.

Add your name and tell the Queensland Government, you support the decision to increase marine protection in the Great Sandy region.

Read the submission

To Whom It may concern, 

I’m contacting you to support the increased protections you have proposed for the Great Sandy Marine Park. The current zoning plan fails to protect our threatened marine life in the Great Sandy.

At present, less than 4% of the marine park is now protected as Marine National Park (MNP) or green zones – substantially below the recommendations from global scientific experts. Allowing commercial gillnet fishing in the Conservation Park (CP) Zones known as the designated Great Sandy Area completely undermines the conservation value of this zoning. 

Destructive gillnet fishing has impacted threatened species, such as dugong and turtles, and taken a huge toll on fish populations. With only a small percentage of the total marine park fully protected, the impacts are mounting and there are noteworthy signs of decline.

Right now, turtles and dugongs are additionally suffering from a loss of seagrass due to back-to-back mass flooding events – the very food they depend on for survival. As such, additional sanctuary protection is more urgent than ever – as the science shows sanctuary protection helps areas to bounce back after flooding events. 

I support a draft zoning plan which:

  • Removes the designated Great Sandy Area that allows gillnet fishing, to prevent threatened species from being entangled and killed.
  • Boosts Marine National Park protection to a minimum of 12.8% and increases Conservation Park and Habitat Protection zoning.
  • Ensures ecological values that were overlooked in the creation of the current plan are addressed. This means at the minimum, creating marine sanctuary coverage for 16% of the total area of all vulnerable habitat types and 10.6% of the total area of all other habitat types found within the existing marine park boundary. 
  • Increases protection for threatened dugongs by protecting more core habitat in Marine National Park zones and expanding and increasing the number of go-slow areas to reduce boat strikes.
  • Increases protection for threatened turtle species by enhancing the level of protection to Conservation Park at important nesting areas around Mon Repos, protecting more core habitat in Marine National Park zones and expanding and increasing the number of go-slow areas to reduce boat strikes.
  • Increases protection to the only known gestation site on the east coast for the critically endangered grey nurse shark by expanding the Marine National Park zone with an additional 13.5 km2 of protection.
  • Increases protection for more than 20 species of migratory shorebirds by applying management provisions that will reduce their disturbance across the entire marine park and will also apply seasonal closures to the four most significant roost sites in the Ramsar listed wetland.
  • Enhances habitat protection through the implementation of no anchor zones, the prohibition of beam trawling in the lower reaches of the Mary river and the prohibition of commercial bloodworming in the Great Sandy Strait and Tin Can Inlet.
  • Provides an appropriately funded compensation package for local commercial fishers whose livelihoods may be affected by rezoning.

We call on the government to: 

  • Provide more habitat protection for shallow and deep seagrass beds, as the current proposal only protects 16% of historical seagrass in Marine Park Zones. Additional protection should be provided to seagrass beds remaining after back to back flood events in 2022, identified in recent seagrass surveys by James Cook University. 
  • Ensure the overall rezoning plan meets contemporary Marine Protected Area principles. This includes
    • adding to the existing sanctuary network within the legally defined park boundaries, rather than shifting sanctuary boundaries or inappropriately allowing for extractive or development activities; 
    • ensuring fully and partially protected areas inside the park are not downgraded, reducing existing protections; and 
    • ensuring future aquaculture and developments, such as wind farms, are prohibited within the marine park.
  • Prohibit commercial tunnel netting within Conservation Park Zones.

It is essential the government protects the full extent of the legally defined marine park boundaries, including areas which adjoin the coast, recognising just 16% of the world’s coastline is healthy and that many areas are in such poor condition that they may never recover. The Great Sandy Marine Park is a unique global asset, so let’s ensure it remains this way for the next generation. 

Thank you for the opportunity to show my support for greater protection of  Great Sandy. It is an opportunity to reverse the ongoing decline of our natural ocean heritage – I hope that you will urgently deliver the necessary changes.

Please accept this as my consultation submission to the Great Sandy Marine Park Zoning Plan Review.

Yours sincerely, 
Thank you! 

Marine life in the Great Sandy needs your help! Tell the QLD Government you support more marine protection!

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which our offices stand and we pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.