THE fight against reckless industrialisation alongside the Great Barrier Reef is going international with the launch of a world-wide campaign by the WWF global network.
For nearly two years WWF-Australia has raised local awareness of this threat to our national icon, but now WWF – which has offices in more than 80 countries – has elevated the issue to become an international priority.
The campaign comes as the Australian government is under mounting pressure to commit to major reef protections, in order to avoid an ‘in danger’ listing by the World Heritage Committee when it meets in June this year.
It builds on WWF’s successful global campaign last year that drew world-wide support and saved Africa’s oldest national park – the World Heritage listed Virunga – from oil exploration.
As one of the world’s best known and respected brands, the network of WWF offices brings major global clout with its direct reach to tens of millions of supporters across its digital and social media channels.
WWF supporters are being asked to “draw the line at the industrial destruction of the Great Barrier Reef,” and sign a petition, calling on world leaders to defend the Reef.
The campaign has launched off the back of a new report released by WWF-International – The Great Barrier Reef Under Threat – by independent consulting firm Dalberg Global Development Advisors.
It found the dumping of waste from port expansions within the Reef’s World Heritage-listed boundaries would have “devastating impacts” on the Reef.
In order to prevent unacceptable new stress on this already-vulnerable ecosystem, WWF is calling on the Australian and Queensland state governments to work together to ban all dumping of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Site.
“The Great Barrier Reef is one of the planet’s richest ocean habitats, home to endangered species, a valuable economic asset for Australia, and a natural treasure for the whole world.
“Turning the reef into a dumping ground is the wrong choice for the environment and makes no business sense, particularly to build ports that are unnecessary,” said WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini.
The report found port expansion plans call for the dredging of approximately 51 million cubic metres of the ocean floor, enough seabed to fill up New York City’s Empire State Building 49 times.
“To protect the Reef and safeguard the 69,000 jobs it provides, we need a legislated ban on the dumping of dredge spoil in the entire Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Site,” said Dermot O’Gorman, CEO of WWF-Australia.
“In addition, dredging should be minimized and greater efforts made to improve water quality.”
“The Reef was a major issue in the Queensland election and the message is clear to whichever party can form government: voters want greater protection of our national icon.
“The global community must speak up and make sure Australian politicians realise the world is watching, and wants to see stronger commitments to save the reef before the World Heritage Committee meeting in June this year.”
According to the WWF report, many prominent banks have backed away from financing coal terminals alongside the Reef due to concerns over environmental impacts.
WWF urges companies not to invest or participate in any project that could threaten the Great Barrier Reef or any other World Heritage Site.
Story Credit: WWF-Australia
Image Credit: © Istockphoto.com / WWF