The summer school holidays are almost here, which means we’re all pulling out the togs and
beach umbrellas or taking the covers off boats and jet skis in preparation to enjoy another
summer in the Gladstone region’s beautiful harbour and beaches.
Before you dive headfirst into your summer holiday plans, it’s worth reminding
ourselves of our joint responsibility to look after our harbour and the many species that call
it home so it can be enjoyed and appreciated for many summers to come! If you’re looking
for ways to reduce your impact on our local waterways this holiday season, here’s a few
simple ways to get started.
1. Stock on up reef-safe sunscreen
Did you know that some common sunscreen chemicals can cause damage to coral
reefs? If you’re planning to spend time in the water these holidays, be sure to choose a sunscreen that protects both your skin and the environment around you. Avoid products containing Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Benzophenone-1, and Benzophenone-8 and opt for a miner SPF that
creates a physical UV filter rather than a chemical one. Look for sunscreens that use
non-nano Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide as the active ingredient as these are far
safer for the reef.
2. Keep the plastic away
Even for the most litter-conscious, it doesn’t take much for a bit of wind to blow light
plastics into the water whether you’re on a boat or at the beach. A great way to
avoid this is by minimising the number of plastic items you bring in the first place.
Carry reusable water bottles, pack your lunch and snacks in sturdy, reusable
containers rather than clingwrap, use a bucket as a bin on-board instead of a plastic
bag. When boating, be sure to check that everything is securely tied down when
travelling a higher speed to avoid the chances of anything going overboard.
3. Be careful what you touch and take
As tempting as it can be to touch that piece of coral or starfish you see while
snorkelling, doing so can be incredibly harmful to the marine ecosystem. Things like
corals and fish have a layer of mucous covering them which is anti-bacterial to help
kill parasites, fight infection and keep them healthy. Human touch can unfortunately
remove this coating. You also never know what else could be concealed that might
be harmful to you too (like spines or sharp fins).
If you’re choosing fishing as your hobby of choice this summer, please adhere to
Queensland’s local bag limits for each species and be honest when measuring fish to
check for legal size. These rules haven’t been put in place to ruin our fun – simply to
ensure that there’s enough of every species for us all to enjoy for generations to
4. Be mindful of water safety around marine animals
Boats and watercraft can easily disturb, distress or harm marine mammals such as
dugongs, turtles and dolphins, so it’s prudent to be mindful of keeping your distance
when boating. To reduce the risk of disturbing their natural behaviour, consider the following when you spot an animal:
Avoid sudden changes in direction
Maintain a constant speed and don’t exceed 5 knots
Move away if an animal shows any signs of distress or disturbance
Not approach a whale, dolphin or dugong from directly in front or behind
Take care to not intercept or prohibit its known path
Never form a barrier between a marine mammal and its group or a mother and her young