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Enhanced protection for marine jewel Mudjimba Reef

The Queensland Miles Government is taking action to protect Mudjimba Reef off the coast of Mooloolaba, ensuring visitors can sustainably enjoy this jewel of the Sunshine Coast for years to come.

The government will install six reef protection markers near the reef to show boaties where it is safe to drop anchor without damaging the delicate marine ecosystem.

The installation of the protection measures follows a feasibility study into potential actions to prevent human impacts to the reef.

The study involved on-water surveys led by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) rangers, extensive vessel use mapping and a departmental review of the University of Queensland UniDive’s ecological assessment report of the Mooloolaba Reefs.

During the surveys, QPWS rangers and citizen scientists from the UniDive Club did not observe any anchor damage to the reef, which is a positive sign.

However, as the area is a popular site for boat-based activities such as fishing, snorkelling and diving, surfing and general sightseeing, the government is taking proactive steps to ensure the reef’s protection from future potential impacts.

Following consultation with First Nations people and relevant stakeholders, the reef protection markers will be installed during winter 2024 to make the most of the calmer weather.

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Innovation Leanne Linard said “The Miles Labor 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.

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

“The Department of Environment, Science and Innovation 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.

“The Labor Government has a track record in implementing laws and making investments necessary to protect environmentally and culturally significant places from threats such as climate change, unsustainable fishing and damage from humans. This small investment to protect Mudjimba Reef is yet another demonstration of our commitment to protect our iconic natural environment.

“Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the LNP, who were environmental vandals when they were last in government and have no policies and no plans to protect our environment should they win government. They are a risk to Queensland’s unique natural environment.”

UniDive spokesperson, Dr Chris Roelfsema said “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,” Dr Roelfsema 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.”

Further information:

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

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

Mudjimba Island and the reef are popular spots for surfers, SCUBA tour operators, recreational fishers, jet skiers, stand up paddleboarders, sailing vessels, recreational and commercial snorkelers.

In 2021-2022, UniDive volunteers conducted an ecological assessment of the Mooloolaba reefs through UQ’s Coral Watch and Reef Check Australia protocols. The project was led by Associate Professor Chris Roelfsema in a voluntary capacity.

Installing six reef projection markers will cost around $30,000 with an ongoing maintenance cost of approximately $5,000 annually