100% Locally Owned, Independent and Free

100% Locally Owned, Independent and Free

Boaties set to drop anchors in designated spots to protect reef

Do you have a news tip? Click here to send to our news team.

Fishing report: Jasper’s big reef haul

We've finally enjoyed a run of good weather, with beautiful sunny days and minimal wind. The weather is looking pretty good for the coming weekend More

Major bank to relocate town’s only branch

A big four bank is set to relocate its only remaining branch in a busy town, meaning customers will need to go to the More

Upgrades for three busy intersections on main road

Works have started on improving a trio of intersections on bustling Nicklin Way. The upgrades are set to help reduce congestion and the potential for More

Crane arrival marks new heights for hospital construction

The skyline of new Maroochydore CBD is transforming with the arrival of a tower crane on the Maroochy Private Hospital construction site, marking another More

New deputy mayor appointed as Natoli makes first address

The new Sunshine Coast Council has held its post-election meeting, with Councillor Maria Suarez to serve as the region’s new deputy mayor. Cr Suarez, who More

Photo of the day: sunrise reflections

Sunrise at Mooloolaba Beach, by Helen Browne. If you have a photo of the day offering, email photo@sunshinecoastnews.com.au. Photos must be horizontal/landscape and may need More

The state government is set to take action to preserve a valuable reef off the Sunshine Coast, but not in the way locals had called for.

Six markers will be installed near Mudjimba Reef to show boaties where they can drop anchor without damaging the ecosystem.

It comes after the Department of Environment, Science and Innovation conducted a feasibility study investigating possible protection measures.

The study was undertaken after Maroochydore MP Fiona Simpson and community members called for permanent moorings to be installed at the reef to stop boaties from “ripping it up” with their anchors.

The study involved surveys that were led by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers, extensive vessel use mapping and a departmental review of the University of Queensland’s UniDive ecological assessment report of local reefs.

Rangers and citizen scientists from the dive club did not observe any anchor damage to the reef, but the area is a popular site for fishing, snorkelling, diving, surfing and sightseeing, so steps are now being taken to ensure the reef’s protection from future potential impacts.

Do you have an opinion to share? Submit a Letter to the Editor at Sunshine Coast News via news@sunshinecoastnews.com.au. You must include your name and suburb.

The government, which consulted with First Nations people and relevant stakeholders, will install the markers during calm weather in winter.

It will cost about $30,000 to place them and $5000 in maintenance each year.

A map of where the markers (shown in yellow) will be placed around Mudjimba Island.

The Minister for the Environment Leanne Linard said the markers were a rapid response to address the issue.

“The government has listened to the community and shares it concerns about potential damage to this rare and beautiful reef just off the coast from Mooloolaba,” she said.

“Not only is Mudjimba Reef a key drawcard for Sunshine Coast surfers, boaties, snorkellers and divers to enjoy, but it provides habitat for many marine species and is a recognised Fish Habitat Area.

“The department has harnessed its expertise to investigate various options for protection measures to ensure the reef can continue to support our precious marine life and the local tourism industry for many years to come.

“Installing these reef protection markers is something we can do relatively quickly to protect the reef and we will continue to listen to and work with the community and local stakeholders on further initiatives to protect the reef, and the species who call it home, from future potential impact should they be required.”

She said the government was committed to protecting environmentally and culturally significant places from threats such as climate change, unsustainable fishing and damage from humans.

Mudjimba Reef is located about 1km north of Mooloolaba, adjacent to Mudjimba Island Conservation Park.

It has a high level of live coral cover and provides habitat for various marine species including tropical and subtropical fish, sea turtles and invertebrates.

Turtle Care’s Karen Anderson, MP Fiona Simpson and diver and retired sea captain Gordon Scott are pushing for the protection of Mudjimba Reef.

Ms Simpson said she wanted to see more details from the government.

“We still haven’t seen the feasibility study and what options they’ve considered,” she said.

“More than 1000 people joined a petition calling for permanent moorings to help protect the reef and still enable access safely,” she said.

“If the minister believes this (installing markers) is the right solution, please release the feasibility report with all the information and engage with the community stakeholders who called for the moorings to protect the reef from the damage they’ve witnessed, which drove this campaign.

“I will be consulting further with the dive and boating community regarding this decision, as well as pressing for more information from the department to ensure that they have a solution that protects the reef and maintains safe access for all users.”

Ms Simpson said the markers may need to be permanently anchored and boaties would still need to drop their anchors, albeit not directly on the reef.

Mudjimba Island and its surrounds are popular destinations for boaties.

UniDive spokesperson Dr Chris Roelfsema said the markers would be crucial to help preserve the reef.

“With recreational boating and tourism in Sunshine Coast waters continuing to grow at a rapid rate, along with an increase in storms and coral bleaching events, it’s more important than ever that measures are put in place to protect our vulnerable marine ecosystems, including the magnificent Mudjimba Reef,” he said.

“These protection markers will play a key role in ensuring this reef can continue to thrive well into the future.

“The monitoring by citizen scientist has shown here, that volunteers can make a difference, and they should continue monitoring, to increase awareness and support decisions for protecting the Mudjimba reefs.”

UniDive volunteers conducted an ecological assessment of local reefs through UQ’s Coral Watch and Reef Check Australia protocols in 2021-2022. The project was led by Dr Roelfsema in a voluntary capacity.

Maritime Safety Queensland general manager Kell Dillon said there are no regulations for anchors on or near the reef, and there are no penalties for doing so, but boaties could pay heed to the markers.

“While there are no specific restrictions on anchoring near the reef, Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) is aware that six reef protection markers will soon be installed near the reef to show boaties where it is safe to drop anchor without damaging the delicate marine ecosystem,” he said.

He said there were some other rules boaties should follow, or risk being fined.

“Vessels that are anchored in Queensland waters are required to display an anchor light at night and not create a hazard to navigation at any time,” he said. “The penalty for breaching anchoring requirements is $309, and this is enforced by routine patrols by MSQ.”

The aerial imagery in this story is from Australian location intelligence company Nearmap. The company provides government organisations, architectural, construction and engineering firms, and other companies with easy, instant access to high-resolution aerial imagery, city-scale 3D content, artificial intelligence data sets, and geospatial tools to assist with urban planning, monitoring and development projects in Australia, New Zealand and North America.

Like stories that inform, connect and celebrate the Sunshine Coast? So do we. Join an independent local news revolution by subscribing to our FREE daily news feed at the bottom of this article.

[scn_go_back_button] Return Home

Subscribe to SCN’s daily news email

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.