Changes to the Whitsundays Plan of Management
The Whitsundays Plan of Management (WPOM) is a legislative instrument prepared under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975, meaning, it is the law.
Plans of Management set out the management intent for a particular area of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, in this case – the Whitsundays. The Plan regulates the types of activities which may be permitted and caps certain activities (e.g. mooring installations) to avoid impacts such as overcrowding. The idea is to ensure that commercial activities are undertaken in a way which does not impact on environmental values, as well as recreational and cultural activities. Generally, the plan limits the number of days and locations a tourism operator can visit or conduct tours in the Marine Park, unless they hold a ‘special permit’ (which are capped at 1998 levels).
It is not often that Plans of Management are reviewed. The current Plan was prepared in 1998 and amended in 2008. Therefore Marine Park users, tourism operators and anyone who thinks their business may be impacted by the changes, should actively engage in the review process. In some cases, wording can be very specific and restrictive, whilst in other cases wording can be vague and ambiguous, giving rise to uncertainty.
Although the current plan allows the Marine Park Authority to issue new ‘special’ permits (daily access), none have been allocated since it’s introduction.
The current review focuses on issues raised during initial targeted consultation, which means changes are around targeted issues, such as superyachts and motorised water sports.
Comments on the plan are due on 7 April 2017. Wild Environmental Consultants will work with clients to submit professional responses to the draft plan. Follow the link to the Marine Park Authority’s website to have your say – http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/visit-the-reef/plans-of-management/whitsunday-plan-of-management.