Being Advanced Eco Certified and Climate Action Leaders demonstrates our commitment to tourism excellence and assures travellers that certified products are backed by a strong, well-managed commitment to sustainable practices. The accreditation recognises high-quality nature-based tourism experiences with strong interpretation values, commitment to nature conservation and reinvestment into local communities. We strive to educate and excite all who visit the Whitsundays, and create a legacy of conservation to preserve this very special place we call home for future generations.
Red Cat Adventures works hard to minimise our environmental footprint in many ways, including minimising waste, recycling, providing education, and using energy-efficient devices. We also actively participate in GBRMPA’s ‘Eye on the Reef’ citizen science program, as well as working in partnership with GBRMPA as Reef Guardians for Peter’s Bay to monitor and report the Bay’s health and implement improvement strategies. Red Cat Adventures has big plans for going green in the coming years and is working hard to lower our impact on the environment as much as possible.
Red Cat Adventures would like to empower all passengers to spread conservation messages on their return home and be active in taking steps to live greener lifestyles. Taking action can be as simple as using a clothes line instead of the dryer, walking instead of driving and taking your own water bottle instead of buying single use plastics. Be a leader in conservation and take action to ensure that our magical reef is preserved for years to come.
CLIMATE ACTION LEADERS
Red Cat Adventures are proud to be certified Climate Action Leaders. This is the highest level of ECO certification you can be awarded in Australia and we are the only boat operator that has achieved this accreditation. In 2018/2019 we:
Introduced a Green Wave Sustainability Program to ensure continual improvement of the businesses environmental objectives;
Offset 52 tonnes of unavoidable carbon emissions by investing in CarbonNeutrals Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor plantings and International Wind Farm initiatives via co-funded investment of guest purchased offsets and business investment.
Implemented iPad WIFI water tank system to better manage electric water pumps. The electricity bill has decreased by 50% due to this 2020 initiative.
MANAGEMENT OF THE REEF
The Whitsundays inshore and offshore area is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) whose management is guided by a range of plans, policies, regulations, and legislation, with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 which sets out GBRMPA’s functions and responsibilities. Zoning plans and Whitsunday's Plan of Management guide day to day use by operators in the Whitsunday area. Zones have been designed to direct the use that is permitted to balance environmental protection, recreational and commercial uses of the marine park. All operators utilizing the marine park pay an environmental management charge (EMC) to the GBRMPA. The funds received from the EMC are vitally important in the day-to-day management of the Marine Park and in improving its long-term resilience.
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services (QPWS) manage the national parks along the Queensland Coast. Marine park rangers manage the Marine Park including the islands, marine infrastructure including moorings. Marine park rangers operate out of Airlie Beach.
Reef Catchments is the region’s Natural Resource Management body. They work to ensure the long term sustainability of natural resources and improve practices to protect the reef and the wider environment. With poor water quality from land-based runoff listed as the second most threat to the reef (GBRMPA, 2018) the work that Reef Catchments contributes too is critical in improving the health of the GBR in the region.
The most severe climatic impacts recently being experienced in the Whitsundays area are tropical cyclones and other effects of climate change including coral bleaching. Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie crossed the Whitsunday Coast in March 2017 and caused massive damage to the reef, and the subsequent runoff and floodwaters caused a flood plume that increased turbidity and nutrient of waters for months following the event. The reef was significantly altered by this event and recovery is ongoing.
Coral bleaching has been recorded around the Whitsundays however at minimal levels compared to northern reef areas that were severely impacted by coral bleaching in both 2016 and 2017.
The Earth’s climate has always changed throughout time however the accelerated change occurring currently due to greenhouse gases emitted through human activity is unprecedented. Climate change has been modelled using low, medium and high emissions scenarios. We are currently tracking well above the highest emissions model and are experiencing predicted impacts including ocean acidification, rising sea levels, higher average temperatures and more intense extreme events.
Exposure to these conditions, and the sudden onset of these conditions, leaves the environment, and people unable or unprepared to adapt in time. Coral bleaching is a well-publicised event that has occurred in some coral species that are not able to withstand the recent spikes in ocean temperatures. It is predicted that certain species will out-survive other species, altering species compositions and potentially lowering the biodiversity of the reef.
Ocean acidification is already being witnessed off of the coast of Florida Keys and is seeing corals and other shelled organisms that cannot adapt in time lose their hard shells or skeletons and disappearing from the area. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) warns that In the long-term, ocean acidification is likely to be the most significant impact of a changing climate on the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem.
Mitigation is reducing your carbon footprint. Red Cat Adventures is considering options to mitigate and conserve the environment. Initiatives already in place include changing over to more energy-efficient lighting, increasing recycling and purchasing green power.
Climate change is the biggest threat to the reef (GBRMPA)
It is not certain how climate change will affect rainfall.
The average annual temperatures are getting hotter, the oceans are acidifying and sea levels around the globe (not everywhere) on average are rising.
Cyclone intensity is predicted to increase with climate change.
The oceans absorb about a third of the carbon dioxide produced by humans. This dissolves in seawater and becomes carbonic acid.