Living in the Whitsundays: Frequently Asked Questions About Zoning

Living in the Whitsundays can be every person’s dream. However, if you cannot permanently live there, you can visit anytime. And in order to have fun and get the most out of it, you need to know some of the important things about zoning.
It is essential that you know the zone you are in when your charter yacht or houseboat is on the water. So take time to review some of the frequently asked questions about zoning which are equally essential if you are living in the Whitsundays or there for a vacation.
Question: Am I allowed to collect souvenirs?
Answer: In Habitat Protection (Dark Blue), General Use (Light Blue), and in Conservation Park (Yellow), limited collecting is permissible. What is allowed in general is collecting less than five of any species; and this is without permit. However, collecting corals, whether they are dead or alive is prohibited. Protected species are not allowed to be collected. Such include pipefish, seahorses, helmet shells, giant clams, and giant triton shells.
Question: Am I allowed to enter in a Preservation Zone?
Answer: If you do not have a written permit signed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority or the GBRMPA, you are not allowed to enter into Preservation Zones. In case of an emergency, entrance is permitted. Preservation Zones give a higher level of protection for unique and special habitats, places, animals, and plants in the Whitsundays. For example, in the Eshelby Island, important roosting and breeding habitat of seabirds as well as fringing coral reefs are protected.
Question: Can I do spearfishing in the Whitsundays?
Answer: Spearfishing is permitted in Habitat Protection, General Use, and in Conservation Park Zones. However, a part of Conservation Park Zone that is under the Whitsunday Public Appreciation Special Management Area prohibits spearfishing. Remember, when you are spearfishing in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, do not use a light.
Question: If my boat does not have plotting or navigational equipment, how will I be able to know where the zones are?
Answer: If you do not have Global Positioning System (GPS), you can still navigate and determine most zones’ locations. Most Conservation Park and Marine National Park Zones that are near the coast have simple shapes and their boundaries could be normally lined up with landmarks on the islands or on the coast. However, in such case, the most ideal source of information is the detailed map series which is also known as the 1:250,000 scale. The majority of the zones are massive especially on offshore. But if you are in any way unsure, make sure you stay away from no-fishing zones.
So in order to avoid penalties and damaging protected corals, reefs, sea creatures, and others, always remember the answers to these frequently asked questions, whether you are on a vacation or living in the Whitsundays.

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