Save the Great Barrier Reef!

The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is on the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, and is the world’s largest coral reef system. It stretches for over 2,600 kilometres, can be seen from outer space, and is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms called coral polyps.

CNN labelled it one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and it is the state icon of Queensland.

 

Why is it in danger?

According to a study published in October 2012, the reef has lost more than half of its coral since 1985.

“If the trend continues, coral cover will decline by a further 40 per cent by 2022.” – Dr Peter Doherty, research fellow at the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

While a large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which helps to limit the impact of human use such as fishing and tourism, there are developing concerns about the impact of certain elements on the Great Barrier Reef. Environmental pressures such as runoff, climate change accompanied by mass coral bleaching, and outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish cause much damage to the reef.

However, there is an even greater concern emerging.

The Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage Area, however UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) have found that the Australian Federal and Queensland State Government have not been doing enough to protect this World Heritage. In late March of this year, UNESCO visited Australia to inspect the current and projected developments which are currently destroying Gladstone Harbor and impacting the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area.

One of the largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals is being built in Gladstone Harbor and this is causing massive amounts of damage to the Great Barrier Reef, so much so that Australia has been given six months to fix the problem, or else the Great Barrier Reef will be down-listed to ‘World Heritage in danger.’

At Gladstone at the moment, approximately 42 million tonnes of the Harbour bed is being dredged to build pipelines to the terminals and infrastructure and port development for shipping vessels which will take the LNG overseas. This dredging has resulted in a high degree of contaminant mobilisation, poisoning fish, dugongs, turtles and other marine life.

What will happen to the reef?

Climate scientists argue that these coal developments will double Australia’s carbon emissions in the next decade. This will make conditions impossible for the reef’s survival, and will lead to environmental catastrophe.

The coal development companies are now waiting on Federal Environmental Minister Tony Burke’s final decision on whether they will be allowed to begin the Abbot Point dredging project, which will allow them to dump their spoil off the coast of Bowen.

The dredging site is home to a variety of vulnerable marine life, including the most endangered nesting turtle in Australia, the loggerhead. Despite assurances that the dredged spoil will end up in a “similar” site, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has recently found that the modelling of the dredging project does not take into account ocean currents, which could spread the spoil from a dump site up to 50 kilometres further on.

How can we save the reef?

You can do your part to help save the reef by signing the petitions being sent to Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke.

Join tens of thousands of Australians and add your name to the petition for the Great Barrier Reef.

http://www.savethereef.org.au/

The future of the Great Barrier Reef hangs in the balance. Sign the petition now and help save the Reef!

Read more about what’s happening to the Reef and how Greenpeace are trying to save it here:

http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/en/news/climate/Murky-waters/

You can also help by sharing the story with everyone you know. Every additional signature counts, it is up to us to fight for the Reef.

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