Since 2019, the Department of Environment and Science (DES) has undertaken a significant program of consultation with the community, First Nations peoples, local councils, scientists and key stakeholder groups on the zoning arrangements in the marine park.
A draft zoning plan was developed, informed by community feedback, advice from First Nations peoples, recommendations from an independent scientific reference group, socio-economic information and scientific research, as well as best practice marine park management principles.
In developing the draft zoning plan, consideration was given to the primary objective of the Marine Parks Act 2004 to conserve and manage the state’s marine environment while providing opportunities for a range of ecologically sustainable uses by the community.
Between 23 September and 23 October 2022, the draft zoning plan and associated Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement outlining proposed changes was released for broad public consultation and feedback.
- Summary of key changes proposed in the draft zoning plan September 2022
- Draft Zoning Plan Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement September 2022
Stakeholders and the community were invited to have their say on how well the proposed changes would conserve and manage the marine park and/or affect them via an online survey or by submitting their feedback in writing. The online survey targeted the following key topics relating to the marine park:
- habitat protection
- the designated Great Sandy Area and commercial net fishing
- recreational fishing
- protecting threatened species
- coastal management
- protecting cultural values
- Platypus Bay.
Information about the draft zoning plan was distributed via traditional media, social media, newspaper and online advertising, email, posters, stickers and flyers, likely reaching more than 1.5 million people and generating more than 21,000 visits to the consultation website.
More than 443,000 of this audience was within the Great Sandy Marine Park local communities of Fraser Coast, Bundaberg, Gympie and Tin Can Bay.
How feedback was provided
More than 6,580 pieces of feedback were received, including:
- 1,245 submissions via the consultation online survey – over 59% from within Great Sandy Marine Park local communities of Fraser Coast, Bundaberg, Gympie and Tin Can Bay
- 215 written submissions, which included 2 form letters. The form letters produced by the Australian Marine Conservation Society and the Queensland Seafood Industry Association generated 4,227 and 1,066 letters respectively.
What the feedback said
Community and stakeholder consultation indicated strong support for the majority of changes that were proposed in the draft zoning plan.
In most cases the proposed changes were either supported as is, or with suggested modifications. These modifications mostly related to the location or boundary alignment of particular Marine National Park (green) zones.
The one key proposal that was strongly opposed by the majority of respondents (70 per cent) was the retention of commercial tunnel netting within the Conservation Park (yellow) zone of the Great Sandy Strait and Tin Can Inlet.
- The majority of people who completed the online survey chose to respond to questions relating to the revised zoning network and indicated strong and broad support for increasing protection of marine park habitats.
- Online survey results:
- 63% agreed with the proposed increase of the Marine National Park (green) zones from 3.9% to 12.8% of the park
- 79% agreed with proposed new or expanded Conservation Park (yellow) zones
- 75% agreed with proposed new or expanded Habitat Protection (dark blue) zones.
- The recreational fishing sector provided the majority of survey consultation feedback and were broadly supportive of the draft zoning plan but suggested several modifications to reduce impacts on recreational fishing access at some key fishing locations.
- Commercial fishers, seafood processors and various support industries strongly opposed the proposed changes to the zoning network and in particular, the prohibition of large mesh gill nets and ring nets from the Conservation Park Zones within Baffle Creek, Elliott River, Burrum River system, the Great Sandy Strait and Tin Can Inlet, due to the significant impacts on the local industry.
- The conservation sector provided clear support for most of the proposed changes and made suggestions to further enhance marine conservation.