Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, has called on the local community in the Cassowary Coast Region and the Herbert River district to have their say on an updated draft management plan for the iconic Hinchinbrook Island National Park, before December 2, 2016.

Mr Cripps said the updated draft management plan for the Hinchinbrook Island National Park was released for public comment last week and proposed a number of changes to the way Hinchinbrook Island was managed and utilised by locals and visitors.

“On face value, this updated draft plan appears to be more open to the idea of locals and visitors being able to increase their access to Hinchinbrook Island in a sustainable way and seems to be prepared to encourage additional sustainable ecotourism activities” said Mr Cripps.

“This is in contrast to the previous draft plan released for public consultation in 2011, which proposed to prohibit any new infrastructure on the island, further restrict access to the island and prohibit fishing in certain areas on and around the island” he said.

“I’m quite pleased that the strong opposition to the 2011 draft plan that the local community and I objected to did not proceed, because this updated version appears to have taken on board at least some of those concerns and adopted a more flexible approach”.

“I credit that to the reforms the former LNP Government made to the Nature Conservation Act which modernised the legislation that governs the management of National Parks and brought in a bigger focus on accommodating sustainable ecotourism opportunities”.

Mr Cripps said he was pleased to see the draft plan provide for upgraded facilities on the island, including campaign and toilet facilities, if required and facilitating additional commercial tourism activities, while maintaining the wilderness experience for visitors.

“The island National Parks in the Hinchinbrook electorate are a cornerstone of our local tourism industry and the recreational opportunities of our local community, so the importance of these management plans being balanced documents can’t be overstated”.

“The Hinchinbrook Island National Park is one of the most important islands for both tourism and recreation and this draft management plans touches on everything from the future of Cape Richards, fishing and camping opportunities and the Thorsborne Trail”.

Mr Cripps said he encouraged local residents to read and respond to the draft management plan for the Hinchinbrook Island National Park before the closing date for submissions on 2 December 2016, with information available at www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au.