Coral reefs across the world are under threat from global warming, and Australia's Great Barrier Reef is also suffering from the outrage of the Crown of Thorns. So it's good news for all, but particularly for leisure sailors who often see the devastation at first hand during underwater adventures, that a new, really splendid patrol vessel will soon take to the water to monitor and protect the Great Barrier Reef.
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Queensland National Parks Minister Steve Dickson today inspected the $5 million, 24-metre aluminium catamaran at Marine Engineering Consultants (MEC) Yachts at Coomera. The vessel is funded by the Commonwealth and Queensland governments.
The new vessel is expected to be operational in May and will replace the 24 year old Kerra Lyn which has been an integral part of field work and enforcement activities for the past two decades.
It is twice as fast, more environmentally friendly, and more cost-effective than its predecessor and will provide reliable access across the 348,000 square kilometre Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
The joint field management program run by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service will use the boat to undertake activities on the Reef.
'A typical day might involve monitoring compliance of zoning rules, maintaining facilities such as camping grounds and moorings, fire and weed control on islands, working with Traditional Owners on their sea country, or responding to boating or shipping incidents,' Minister Hunt said.
'The new vessel improves our ability to respond to incidents quickly, and to service all parts of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, saving time on the water allowing for more work to be undertaken on important seabird and turtle rookeries in the remote areas of the Marine Park.'
'This means rangers will be able to do more work on Raine Island, the largest known green turtle rookery in the world. This includes monitoring nesting and hatchling rates, and maintaining some fencing of phosphate cliff edges on the island to make sure breeding females make it back to the water safely,' Minister Hunt said.
A large bank of solar panels powers the vessel reducing the use of diesel generators, cutting emissions by 30 per cent and lowering annual operating costs.
Queensland National Parks Minister Steve Dickson said the improved resource would allow rangers to spend more time in the field, delivering on the Newman Government’s election promise to revitalise frontline services.
'The new boat can operate away from port for 12 weeks, has a range of up to 2000 nautical miles and speeds of up to 25 knots, plus it can carry up to 28 people on day operations, so it really will give us the freedom to spend more time on those activities that protect the reef and support the tourism industry,' Mr Dickson said.