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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

19 October 2005

New tools for Reef tourism operators


Tourism operators in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park will have new tools to help protect one of Australia's most precious icons when the Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, today launches an online handbook and a reporting initiative.

The new online handbook, Onboard - The Tourism Operator's Handbook for the Great Barrier Reef, is a new easy-to-use summary of what operators need to know to conduct their activities in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Senator Campbell said the handbook contained sections on marine parks permits, the Environmental Management Charge and explains management arrangements for each area of the marine park.

The handbook has been tested by current and prospective tourism operators as well as Marine Park managers and includes a guide to 'Responsible Reef Practices' for 28 marine park activities.

"We want all tourism operators to have easy access to user friendly information on doing the right thing in the marine park," Senator Campbell said.

"This will help them to operate to the highest standards possible and work collaboratively to help protect this World Heritage tourism icon.

"By using the web site, operators and their staff can learn about best practices for everything from anchoring to whale watching," he said.

Strongly supported by the tourism industry, Onboard - The Tourism Operator's Handbook for the Great Barrier Reef can be accessed direct from the GBRMPA web site www.gbrmpa.gov.au.

The web site is supported by an introductory booklet and compact disc to ensure the information is available on tourism vessels and in remote locations.

Senator Campbell said another tool for tourism operators on the reef is the new Eyes and Ears Incident Reporting Initiative that has valuable compliance information to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of enforcement efforts in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

"As the largest commercial industry in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, tourism operators are the regular eyes and ears of the community as they conduct their daily activities on the reef," Senator Campbell said.

"The reporting system is a practical source of information and will develop a stronger bond between the community and the Great Barrier Reef."

Senator Campbell said he hoped the new Eyes and Ears Incident Reporting Initiative and the new online handbook would help improve the system for safeguarding the reef.

The GBRMPA developed the reporting initiative through consultation with key tourism bodies such as the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators and the Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association.

Compliance issues on the Great Barrier Reef are presently monitored through a close relationship between Federal and State Agencies such as Customs Coastwatch, the GBRMPA and the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency.

Senator Campbell said additional monitoring by tourism operators would give the area an even greater level of protection.

"Tourism on the Great Barrier Reef has been a great contributor to the economy, to the community and in educating those who visit the Reef," Senator Campbell said.

The information supplied by tourism operators through the Eyes and Ears programme will be integrated into existing standard operating procedures. An initial print run of 500 Eyes and Ears kits will be distributed throughout the tourism industry and operators can send their incident reports to 1800 555 130.

Media Contact:
Renae Stoikos (Minister Campbell's Office)   02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

Commonwealth of Australia