Sites investigated for underwater island art installations
DIVERS have been scoping out suitable locations for the installation of underwater attractions in the Whitsunday.
In the wake of Cyclone Debbie, damage to the fringing reefs forced stakeholders to look at other ways to incite divers and snorkellers back into the water around island reefs.
Tourism Whitsundays chairman Al Grundy said site assessments were conducted last week by Townsville company Reef Ecologic.
"They have done the first stage of the initial assessments last week and they will come back in the next month to report their findings back to the industry,” he said.
"From that Reef Ecologic is also going through the approvals process with the Marine Park Authority.
Mr Grundy acknowledged Whitsunday fringing reef dive sites were damaged and he expected recovery to be "slow”.
State and federal cyclone funding has made available $7 million, of which $1.2 million will be spent on the establishment of an underwater tourist trail.
Mr Grundy was inspired by the findings of a recent reef summit in Cairns in which a movement away from a non-interventional model was embraced when managing the marine park.
"There is now general recognition that realistically if we sit on our hands and do nothing the result will be worse than intervening,” he said.
He said some sites may recover well by themselves and sites that looked like they may not recover unassisted would be flagged as areas suitable for coral gardening.