The Government is proud to announce two RAAF World War II aircraft wrecks in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park will be protected under new measures planned to come into effect next month.
Special management areas – or buffer zones – will be placed around a Catalina wreck off Bowen and a Catalina that crashed near the Frankland Islands south of Cairns.
Under these new measures, fishing and anchoring will not be allowed within a one square kilometre area that encompasses each crash site and diving will be restricted.
This is an important step in protecting our maritime cultural heritage in the Marine Park – both Catalinas, known as flying boats, went down in 1943, claiming the lives of the crew onboard.
Both planes are examples of the iconic Catalina or ‘Black Cats’ active in the western Pacific during World War II for long range bombing, reconnaissance and rescuing allied personnel.
In protecting this heritage, the stories of those whose lives were lost at sea during the war are being protected and honoured.
The decision to provide greater protection for these two aircraft wrecks was prompted by direct requests from the relatives of the servicemen who died.
At a memorial ceremony in 2013 marking the 70th anniversary of the Catalina crash in Bowen, relatives expressed a strong desire to protect these sites they consider the resting place of their loved ones.
Broad consultation on this proposal for these special management areas, clearly showed substantial support for protecting the human remains and the heritage significance of these two wrecks.
The Catalina wreck near the Frankland Islands is in a green zone, which means it’s already closed to fishing, but this new measure will provide an additional safeguard.
Divers will be able to access the two sites under a Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority permit, for example, to clean away entangled anchors or fishing equipment, or to conduct monitoring or research.