Geoscience Reference
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The impacts of coral collectors were not limited to the resort islands, such as
Lady Musgrave Island; other islands in the vicinity of resorts were also affected
as tourists undertook day-trips. One report, written in 1940 by G. Gentry, a
National Parks Ranger, acknowledged that Hoskyn and Fairfax Islands were
being damaged since they were visited regularly by tourists from Lady Musgrave
and Heron Islands. His report stated: 'There is no doubt that a fair quantity of
coral is taken as specimens. Some most outstanding coral beds are to be found
around these two islands'. Similarly, E. McKeown, another National Parks Ranger,
reported that camping parties from the districts between Cairns and Innisfail that
regularly camped on High Island, in the Frankland Group, were removing coral
specimens from the Frankland Islands. By October 1940, the foreshore and reef of
Green Island had been included on the list of islands from which the removal of
coral was prohibited; by the end of the same year, the reefs at Hoskyn and Fairfax
Islands, and those at the Frankland Islands, had also been protected . 13
However, the removal of coral continued. At Green Island, Noel Monkman, the
Honorary National Parks Ranger and Honorary Inspector of Fisheries, complained
in 1944 about the removal of specimens by American servicemen, stating that:
I am having an extremely difficult time in protecting the Reef at Green Island
from destruction by servicemen spending their weekend leave here. As you
are no doubt aware, we have from 200 to 300 men arrive on the island each
weekend. I have done my best to prevent the despoiling of the Reef but it is
beyond my control. On many occasions when I have requested men to cease
breaking off coral and filling their knapsacks with it or collecting kit boxes full
of shells and starfish, the men have in many instances become very abusive
and aggressiv e. 14
Investigation of this issue revealed that Monkman himself, with his brother-in-
law, sold corals at the Green Island kiosk (Figure 9.3) . In response, Monkman
argued that the corals at the kiosk were not taken from Green Island reef; instead,
he stated, coral collectors 'have collected these specimens by boat on distant reefs
adjacent to the Island, and also purchase from the Island boys [ sic ] on the luggers
visiting Green Island'. After the introduction of legislation, hence, some impacts
of collecting were transferred to reefs that were not protected by restrictions . 15
The damage wrought by coral collectors - including by reef-walking - was
apparent to many observers. At Heron Island, Gentry saw 'evidence that shells
and coral have been removed in the past'; and, at Green Island, Lock (1955,
p207) stated, 'it was evident that some of the coral had been broken apart, and
killed, by visitors walking upon it' . 16 S erventy (1955, p77) stated:
Coral and shell have developed into a minor industry. So much so that most
tourist islands in self-defence have had to prohibit the 'picking' of coral and
the gathering of shells, at least in large quantities. Boats working from Cairns
bring in coral for the tourist trade […].
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