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Onboard - Tourism Operator's Handbook for the Great Barrier Reef

Rewards Program

Related Links

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Bleach Watch
Help monitor coral bleaching by being part of the Bleach watch Professional Program.


The partnership between the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the tourism industry is strong and growing. It is built on a strong set of common goals and the recognition that a healthy Reef means a healthy industry.

Once you become involved in the partnership, there is a number of ways you can receive benefits and rewards, both directly to your operation and indirectly to the industry as a whole.

Why should I be involved ?

The health of the Marine Park and its professional management are important to both the tourism industry and the GBRMPA. Without a healthy, sustainable and well-managed Marine Park, the viability of the industry is threatened.  This is a strong foundation for working together in the interests of the Marine Park. 

How can I work in partnership?

Many Marine Park tourism operators already contribute to Marine Park management. There are many ways that you can be a partner in keeping this Marine Park a special and unique place.

  • Adopt Responsible Reef Practices whenever you are in the Marine Park.
  • Become certified with the Eco Certification Program and demonstrate the high standards you have achieved.
  • Help monitor coral bleaching by being part of the BleachWatch Professional Program (see Related Links at top right of page)
  • Help identify crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks by contributing to COTSWATCH (see Related Links at top right of page)
  • Report incidents and sightings. Often you might be the first to spot something wrong (for example, illegal activities, oil spills, stranded or injured marine animals or the presence of pest species).
  • Correctly collect and record Environmental Management Charge (EMC) payments. The monies you collect are the most significant contribution of its kind of any industry using the Great Barrier Reef. The information on your visits to the Marine Park is vital to understanding tourism use and improving management arrangements.
  • Contribute to improving management arrangements by becoming involved in your Local Marine Advisory Committee (LMAC), offering ideas and suggestions to the GBRMPA or a member of the Tourism and Recreation Reef Advisory Committee and commenting on new policy proposals.
  • Improve your knowledge about operating in the Marine Park by attending industry workshops and training courses.

A special thanks to those operators who contribute to the Eye on the Reef Monitoring Programme. This is an important weekly monitoring program for the Cairns and Whitsundays. There are a fixed number of participants in the Programme and the GBRMPA contacts operators as further opportunities become available.

What are the rewards?

For your individual operation, being a partner in management can have some immediate and tangible rewards:

  • Certified operators are eligible to apply for longer term permits and receive other benefits and recognition, such as GBRMPA support at trade events.
  • There is better enforcement of incidents that could affect your operation.
  • Participants in monitoring programs such as BleachWatch receive up-to-date analysis of the data they have provided, specific to their sites.
  • Administrative ‘red-tape’ is less, for example through Vessel Identification Numbers

More generally:

  • Management of the Marine Park is well-funded, more effective and more can be done to protect it.
  • Management of the Marine Park is better tailored to meet the needs of operators while ensuring a sustainable tourism industry into the future.
  • There is better understanding of bleaching events and how these can affect the Reef.
  • Crown of thorns information allows the targeting of government funds for control to key outbreak sites.
  • A high standard industry with a world class product is recognised by the general pubic and supported by potential clients.

© Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority