By Richard Leck, WWF Australia
Living on the coast of the Great Barrier Reef for many years this jewel in the crown has been my passion for most of my life.I have seen more species of fish than I can count, admired the majestic turtles that explore the coral, and shared a few close encounters diving with sharks. The reef draws in tourists world-wide who support our local economy at a value of $6 billion per year and provide for 60,000 jobs. If development in the area is done right, this growth can be sustainable for our communities, the reef, and business.
But over the last several years we have seen the demise of this natural wonder. The Queensland and Australian governments who are responsible for this international icon aren’t protecting it. They are fast-tracking mega ports, permitting shipping superhighways and allowing the dredging and dumping of millions of tonnes of seabed and rock in the Reef’s waters.
We need action, and the World Heritage Committee can help. They meet in Cambodia, June 16-25 and will discuss the future of the Reef. Listed as a World Heritage site in 1981 this is the only site in the world that meets all four Outstanding Universal Value tests. We need to send a strong message that it’s time to take leadership and protect this global treasure.
As campaign director for “Fight for the Reef” I will be at the meeting to present this petition to the Committee members and I need your voice with me. Your signature will let the World Heritage Committee know we are watching their decision as we look for their leadership in forcing the Queensland and Australian governments to give the Reef the protection it needs.
Please join me in this fight, so the reef can remain home to many ocean explorations for future generations and my 2 year old twins.
We are calling on you – and the Queensland and Australian governments – to take decisive action to ensure the precious icon that we love is protected.
Specifically, we are calling for the following decisions:
• No approvals of new port projects until a sustainable development plan for the Reef is in place.
• No industrial dredging and dumping in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
• Retain and strengthen the Australian laws that protect the Reef, its catchments and coast.
• Absolutely no industrial development in the Fitzroy Delta and Keppel Bay regions.
• Major investment in the long-term recovery and repair of the Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef is for all Australians and visitors from around the world – not just big industry.
We look forward to the World Heritage Committee taking leadership and urgently ensuring the Reef is protected.