Rangers celebrate 40-years protecting the Great Barrier Reef
PROTECTING the world's largest coral reef system for the last 40-years has been a tireless role for the dedicated staff who monitor the unique marine wonder.
Since 1979, rangers and marine managers from the Australian and Queensland governments joined forces to protect the iconic Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
A critical part of the historic agreement was the creation of a single field management program, funded by both governments.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Field Management Director Richard Quincey said ongoing dedicated field officers and vessels were essential for protecting reefs.
These islands are also home to iconic plants, animals, habitats and rich cultural heritage.
"Together we are the eyes and ears on the Reef, at sea, in the air and on the islands and cover an area that is bigger than Italy and includes the most distant reaches of the World Heritage Area,” Mr Quincey said.
"With a fleet of 21 vessels, we have the ability to travel at high speed, operate in offshore areas and carry out night operations.”
Soon the reef fleet will have an addition to it with Reef Resilience, a second 24-m long-range vessel to expand the patrol.
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Executive Director Damien Head said one of the program's most significant achievements was protecting turtles at Raine Island.
"Raine Island is the most important green sea turtle rookery in the world,” Mr Head.
"Field officers collaborated with Traditional Owners, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, BHP, scientists and universities to make a difference to threatened and vulnerable species like turtles and sea birds.
The working arrangements for the long-term management of the Great Barrier Reef were signed with the original 'Emerald Agreement' in 1979.
The 40th anniversary is an acknowledgement of all who have been part of the Reef Joint Field Management Program.