Every day now, somewhere on the news, in papers, on TV or on the radio someone is talking about the mining boom in Queensland, Australia. Queensland has the most amazing, the biggest, the most beautiful barrier reef in the world. The Great Barrier Reef has the most diverse life forms of any reef in the world and is also one of the oldest reefs in the world. It is a Unesco World Heritage Site!! Yet, the Queensland government, together with the new Australian Federal Government would like to ignore this fact! They also want to ignore the fact that the GBR attracts millions of visitors every year and makes the Queensland tourism industry a mighty dollar.
So, here’s what’s going on: The new “Environment” Minister has backtracked on making the Coral Sea a protected marine park. Tony Abbott, Australia’s PM called it ‘putting a halt on marine park declarations’.
A major player in the mining sector has started building a massive coal harbour in Gladstone. To allow really big ships into this new harbour, the reef has to be dredged. Dredging is a practice that deepens the paths for ships through the reef so they don’t run aground. This dredging does a lot of damage. It scrapes everything and mean EVERYTHING off the ground. All the sea creatures lose their habitat. Lots of them die in the process. Coral, which took thousands of years to grow is being destroyed for coal. This mining boom will last a few years, maybe 10, maybe 20 but the reef will be dead for a very long time to come.
When is the Australian Government going to wake up to this fact? It’s such short-term thinking. It’s so sad and crazy to do this. I visited the GBR on my journey on a research vessel, which was there to report on the state of the reef (you can read about it in Eva’s book, ‘Lahni’s Mission’, about my trip here). The news wasn’t good but there was still hope that things could be turned around. I’m not so sure now.
This is a before and after Dredging photo:
Here’s what you can do:
Also join the fight for the GBR here.