Despite repeated requests to get a review of the Plan of Management on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) agenda, Superyacht Australia tells us they have been advised that once again, due to work pressures, this item has not made it to the table.
This issue has been an ongoing one for the superyacht sector, with Superyacht Australia seeking to have two amendments made. The first amendment is to apply a consistent approach to the management of superyachts regardless of whether they are under charter or whether being operated for private use. This is similar to how other global industries, such as aviation, are managed.
Secondly, the superyacht industry seeks an amendment to the Cairns and Whitsundays Plans of Management to provide greater flexibility in access for superyacht visitation. These management arrangements originally developed in the late 1990's and do not sufficiently consider superyacht use.
Currently there is little opportunity for superyachts in excess of 35 meters in length to provide the type of quality experience the owners and charter clientele are seeking, particularly to some of the more iconic destinations offshore from Cairns, Port Douglas and the Whitsundays.
Superyacht Australia Chairman Barry Jenkins said “the average size of a superyacht has grown over the years and the environmental performance of these vessels, in most cases, far exceeds the current operating standards of many other vessels. It is time this issue made it to the work agenda for GBRMPA. We have however, noted the considerable effort over the years to improve cruise ship access throughout the Reef and in Plan of Management areas for example the cruise ship specific permits and cruise ship anchorages and transit corridors.”
Superyachts, as a growing industry, can provide significant economic benefit for regional economies, increase the reputation of the destination internationally, support local manufacturing and support industries, and do so with less environmental impact than cruise ships and in some cases less impact than local tourist vessel operations carrying hundreds of people.
The fallout and extended delay from this decision means less superyachts will cruise in Queensland waters as one of the key attractions for the global superyacht fleet is cruising the Great Barrier Reef and having that unique experience they see portrayed in Tourism Australia promotions.
With the new Queensland Government strategy of doubling tourism revenue by 2020, this is a huge blow and will be a real barrier to Premier Newman and Minister Jann Stuckey reaching their goal.
Mr Jenkins, Superyacht Australia Chairman said “we will not let this issue rest, we will be talking to all key stakeholders to see if there is some way we can progress this issue. While we appreciate GBRMPA has a significant work agenda we see this as a simple issue that has no downside for anyone and is certainly not an environmental threat to the Great Barrier Reef.”
Minister Stuckey stated at ASMEX, the recent superyacht conference, “Not only is the Newman Government's DestinationQ whole-of-government focus vital to fulfil the potential of this market but there is also a need for co-operation across the three levels of government, particularly in relation to customs, immigration, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority approvals, navigation and other maritime issues.”
Superyacht Australia tells us they will definitely be seeking support from the Newman government on this issue.