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Globally Significant Tourism Project Breathes New Life Into Reef Conservation

18/12/2019

GLOBALLY SIGNIFICANT TOURISM PROJECT BREATHES NEW LIFE INTO REEF CONSERVATION

Media Release

Wednesday 18th December 2019

Stage One of the Southern Hemisphere’s first Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) is now fully installed, with the ‘Coral Greenhouse’ submerged in waters off the John Brewer Reef in North Queensland.

Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the ‘Coral Greenhouse’ was the first installation of its kind in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and would attract a global audience once fully operational.

“By investing in new tourism infrastructure, we’re creating jobs in Townsville,” he said.

“Stage One of this project is a great win for the tourism industry in North Queensland.

“Tourists want an experience they can’t get anywhere else and as the first of its kind this new attraction certainly provides that.

“The Palaszczuk Government has provided $2 million funding to support this project and bring thousands more tourists to Townsville.

“With the focus now shifting towards engaging tourism operators and developing the product, I look forward to the official opening in early 2020.”

The world’s leading marine sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor said the ‘Coral Greenhouse’ is his first-ever underwater building.

“Weighing around 58 tonnes, the ‘Coral Greenhouse’ has taken more than nine months of fabrication time. It is the first piece I have created which integrates floating elements into the design work; it’s also the first time I’ve incorporated technology and coral propagation in the same piece,” Mr deCaires Taylor said

“We’ve used high grade 316 stainless steel, pH neutral marine grade cement and zinc anodes in the construction. The key challenge in creating this piece was that it needed to be able to withstand wave pressures and cyclones, while creating a work that is visible to both divers and snorkellers.

“Our vision is to inspire reef and ocean conservation action and achieve positive environmental outcomes. The ‘Coral Greenhouse’ will achieve that by reducing pressures on the reef environment, as more and more divers and snorkellers visit the site.

“We hope to advance education and offer opportunities for scientists, marine students and tourists to engage in action-based learning and to conduct globally important research on coral reef restoration and new technology,” Mr deCaires Taylor said.

MOUA Deputy Board Chair Dr Adam Smith said it’s incredible to see Stage One installations in the water.

“This has taken more than three years of hard work and dedication from many within the North Queensland community and it’s incredible to think this project is now a reality,” Dr Smith said.

“As the first Museum of Underwater Art in the Southern Hemisphere, this is a globally significant tourism project which will shine a spotlight on reef conservation, the environment, our science and arts communities and Indigenous story telling.

“The MOUA is set to be a complete game changer for the North Queensland tourism industry, expected to attract up to 50,000 visitors annually once fully operational.”

More than 20 sculptures, many of local school children, will act as reef guardians within the ‘Coral Greenhouse’.

Phase one of Stage One, the ‘Ocean Siren’, was installed earlier this month off the iconic Strand Jetty.

The MOUA Board thanks Townsville-based Pacific Marine Group, which has been instrumental in the installation of Stage One.

Both Stage One installations will be officially opened in early 2020.

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