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Shoalwater Bay is an important seagrass habitat within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and is home to the largest dugong population in the Reef’s southern region. 

Shoalwater Bay is a large estuarine area bounded by an extensive network of creeks and rivers. Thirty seven per cent of the Planning Area is shallow open water (less than 10 metres deep) supporting extensive seagrass meadows, and 35 per cent is mangrove communities.

Shoalwater Bay Planning Area

The Shoalwater Bay Planning Area is located 50 kilometres north of Rockhampton. The Planning Area extends from Macdonald Point across to Cape Townshend and south to Reef Point.

The area is also a Species Conservation (Dugong Protection) Special Management Area.

    What is the Shoalwater Bay (Dugong) Plan of Management?

    The Shoalwater Bay (Dugong) Plan of Management 1997 aims to manage activities such as commercial fishing and defence activities that can impact the dugong population or seagrass meadows.

    The dugong is protected under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 as a matter of National Environmental Significance as a listed migratory species and the Queensland Government's Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 2006 lists the dugong as 'vulnerable to extinction in Queensland waters.

    The use and management of the Planning Area by the Department of Defence have assisted in maintaining the important values of this area.

    Dugong mother and calf photo - Great Barrier Reef Marine Park - Australia - © Commonwealth of Australia – (Reef Authority) - Photographer: Johnny Gaskell
    Updated 11 Sep 2023
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