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Locals join GBRMPA advisory committee

By Mark Beale

THREE Whitsunday tourism operators have been selected to join a new committee, which will advise the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) about tourism on the reef.

Tony Brown (True Blue Sailing), Annie Judd (Charter Yachts Australia) and Gavin Herholdt (Hamilton Island Resort) are among the 15 committee members led by independent chairperson Glenys Schuntner.

The new committee has already held its first meeting in Townsville, enabling representatives to raise issues relevant to the tourism sector, which is one of the biggest users of the reef. GBRMPA Chairman Russell Reichelt said the 15 members, appointed for a three-year term, reflected the diversity of the sector.

“From day-tours to resorts, bareboat operations and charter fishing, it’s a highly diverse and important industry that knows first-hand the value of doing all we can to boost the health and resilience of the reef,” he said.

“I’m confident the new committee members will help us continue our decades-long partnership with the tourism industry, and we’ll certainly be keen to hear their views and ideas on operational policies and best practice.”

Helping to ensure tourism use remains ecologically sustainable will be one of the key roles of the committee, which will also have input into research and monitoring priorities, strategic plans, plans of management, zoning plans and contingency plans for severe weather events.

Local committee member Tony Brown said the committee was all about “finding net positives”, through addressing issues such as water quality, looking towards land managing capital dredging projects and discussing how to manage maintenance dredging.

“And it’s about finding better ways of doing what we do in the marine park and that translates to all industries and all areas,” he said.

The next meeting of the Tourism Reef Advisory Committee will be held in March 2015.

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