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Green zones show early benefits

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Coral Trout numbers have been significantly boosted on protected offshore reefs as a result of the new Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan. Scientific counts of key fish stocks have revealed a 70% increase in fish numbers in the protected areas. “This is great news for the long term future of our Great Barrier Reef and the users of the Marine Park,” Member for Herbert, Peter Lindsay, said today. “These increases will not only benefit fish stocks and the ecosystem, but also the tourism and fishing industries in North Queensland,” Mr Lindsay said. The monitoring initiated by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, clearly indicates that the green zones established in mid 2004 in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park are having a positive effect even faster than scientists expected. The work was carried out by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and James Cook University and supported in part by funding from the Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility. The amount of coral trout and stripey sea perch on protected inshore reefs in the Whitsunday Islands has also increased since the new Zoning Plan. There will also be ongoing reporting on other popular species such as sweet lip and red emperor.