Boaties around the Great Sandy Marine Park area have received fines of $500 for failing to heed warnings to slow down and protect Queensland's vulnerable marine life.
Queensland Environment Minister, Vicky Darling said five boaties were caught ignoring Go Slow zones during one weekend in the Great Sandy Marine Park off Hervey Bay and were issued with $500 fines as the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers cracked down to protect turtles and dugongs.
She said the summer floods had had a devastating effect on coastal seagrass beds, the main source of food for the animals, leaving them vulnerable to boat strike.
'Rangers will not hesitate to target those people on the water who are ignoring go-slow areas and the fines handed out on the weekend should stand as a warning,' she added. 'The go-slow regulations are there for a simple reason - going too fast can cause death or serious injury to our marine wildlife.'
All six marine turtle species found along the Queensland coast are listed as endangered or vulnerable.
The very few sea turtles that make it into adulthood don’t breed until they are at least 30 years old. Dugong are also slow breeders with a calving interval of three to seven years, and a gestation period of 13–15 months.
DERM says boaties can help to protect these majestic marine mammals by watching out for them and taking extra care in known habitats such as seagrass beds and sticking to recommended speed limits in other areas.
The go-slow areas are clearly marked on the Great Sandy Marine Park zoning map, available from www.derm.qld.gov.au