Great Barrier Reef facing grave threat from industrial port expansions
Lissa Schindler, Australian Marine Conservation Society
Reef scene: photo by Cherry Muddle
Those lucky enough to have visited the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef will agree that it is a memorable experience. The clear water, colourful corals, fish, sharks, turtles and dolphins are all examples of why this wondrous place has been listed as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and is touted as a national icon.
The reef also supports the livelihoods of many people living along its coastline. Tourism, fishing and research organisations all rely on the reef and in turn provide around $7 billion annually for our economy and around 70,000 jobs. Queensland needs a healthy reef for a strong economy, now and in the future.
What many people don’t realise is that despite its beauty, economic importance and world heritage listing, the Great Barrier Reef is under threat from massive new industrial developments along its coastline. Large scale mining operations, new rail lines and ports are planned, driven by a huge demand for coal, gas and other mineral resources, especially in India and China. There are at least 67 developments on the drawing board in or near the Great Barrier Reef, including five mega ports – one of which would become the largest coal export terminal in the world only 50kms from the tourism mecca — the Whitsunday Islands.
Hay Point. Photo: Greenpeace
If these developments are approved, millions of tonnes of seafloor will be dredged and then dumped in the Great Barrier Reef waters and the number of freight ships criss-crossing the reef each year will nearly double to over 7000, putting the reef and the industries which rely on it at risk.
At a time when the reef needs stronger protection, the Queensland Government is fast tracking these developments and giving special treatment to industry. They’ve cut environmental protection, removed assessment officers and ignored the concerns of the community.
If we’re not careful, Queensland will emerge from the “mining boom” with one of its best tourism icons ruined and the loss of a coastal lifestyle loved by many.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society has recently joined forces with WWF-Australia to fight for the reef and stop this massive threat of industrialisation. TV ads featuring long time conservationist Bob Irwin are helping to raise awareness in regional Queensland.
But we can’t do it without you.
We need you to join us in the fight for the reef and share the information about what’s going on along the Reef’s coast with your friends and family.
If we don’t want the Reef to become an industrial zone and shipping super highway, we must let the Queensland and Australian governments know it’s their job to protect it.
After all, with mining you can only dig it up once, but if we look after the Reef it will be here forever.
Every Australian wants to protect the Reef. But as Bob Irwin warns, we’re going to have to fight for it.
We are fighting so that our children and their children can enjoy the Reef’s natural beauty. We are fighting for our fishers and tourism operators who need a healthy Reef for their livelihoods.
And we are fighting so the Reef remains one of the great natural wonders of the world. It needs you now more than ever.
Join Fight for the Reef today!
Come and rally for the Reef in Brisbane on 25th August. www.fightforthereef.org.au