Do you value the Great Sandy Straits?

Poona Bay -  Julie Hartwig Photography

Poona Bay – Julie Hartwig Photography

Community members are being asked to share what they love about the Great Sandy Strait in a new survey this month, for a chance to win great prizes from local businesses.

In the map-based survey, residents from Hervey Bay south to Cooloola will be able to mark the places in the Great Sandy Strait they feel strongly about, and why. The research aims to add a new dimension to decisions that affect the marine environment.  Griffith University researcher Katie Walters says “People appreciate the Straits for so many reasons – fishing, tourism, and just because it’s beautiful. But we know that there are other reasons it’s important to the community that are less talked about – for example, someone might love a place because it’s spiritually special to them, or because they know it’s important to a particular species of wildlife. We want to capture that full diversity of values the community has for this unique marine region.”

Participants also have a chance to mark places on the map where their enjoyment of an area is affected by other users. “We want to understand what behaviours within the Strait the community as a whole would like to see remedied. This is a close-knit community, and conflicting values can lead to divisions. By capturing information about negative feelings, we might be able to anticipate areas of conflict between users.”

Participants who complete the survey may opt to be entered into a draw for a double whale watch pass from Tasman Ventures, movie tickets from Hervey Bay Bigscreen Cinemas, or a gift box of cupcakes from Heaven Leigh in Gympie.

Dr Tim Stevens of the Australian Rivers Institute, who is supervising the research, says “In many ways the Straits are a hidden jewel, out of sight and out of mind for all but the people who visit. We want to unlock its secrets, by asking the people who know it best.”

All community members aged over 15, even those who don’t get out on the water, are encouraged to participate.  The survey is open until July 31, and can be accessed at or by emailing  or calling ( / 0468 861 611) for a copy they can return by reply-paid mail.

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