Reef anger on the rise

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - An­gelique Pat­ter­son

HUN­DREDS of Dou­glas Shire res­i­dents are ex­pected to at­tend the Dou­glas Reef Rally this Sun­day, Fe­bru­ary 23, in protest at the federal govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to al­low dump­ing of dredg­ing waste on the Great Bar­rier Reef.

Or­gan­is­ers of the Dou­glas Reef Rally have put a call to arms out for ev­ery­one to join the protest, fol­low­ing the re­cent an­nounce­ment of the ap­proval of the dump­ing of 3 mil­lion cu­bic me­tres of spoil in the Reef at Ab­bot Point near Bowen.

This fore­shad­ows the Cairns Ship­ping De­vel­op­ment Project, which pro­poses to dredge 5 mil­lion cu­bic me­tres of mud to ex­pand the ship­ping chan­nel into Trin­ity Inlet. Ques­tions have been raised as to where the dredge spoil will be dumped, on­shore or off­shore in the Ma­rine Park.

Event MC Kevin Eldridge, who is also rep­re­sent­ing the Dou­glas Shire Sus­tain­abil­ity Group, said de­spite the dredg­ing be­ing south of our re­gion, the com­mu­nity needs to take a stand to pro­tect the fu­ture of the Reef.

‘‘If you care about bio­di­ver­sity and pro­tect­ing one of the world’s most di­verse and unique re­gions, if you ben­e­fit from coastal tourism, if you live in North Queens­land, if you love vis­it­ing the re­gion, or would like your chil­dren to see it one day, please help us spread the word,’’ he said.

‘‘Our reef is al­ready suf­fer­ing – de­struc­tive op­er­a­tions have al­ready be­gun in Glad­stone and Ab­bott Point and fur­ther op­er­a­tions planned for Townsville, Cairns, Trin­ity Inlet and north of Cook­town.

‘‘The peace­ful protest on Fe­bru­ary 23 is the first step in get­ting the word out that the Dou­glas Shire com­mu­nity is dis­sat­is­fied.’’

Mr Eldridge said the protest is just as much about the fu­ture of the Reef as the eco­nomic fu­ture of the re­gion.

‘‘Con­sid­er­ing 90 per cent of all eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in the Dou­glas re­gion is tourism de­pen­dent, res­i­dents and the lo­cal busi­ness com­mu­nity are un­der­stand­ably very con­cerned about the dam­ag­ing im­pact that dump­ing dredge soil would have on the reef en­vi­ron­ment and our tourism in­dus­try,’’ he said.

‘‘Gov­ern­ments and big busi­ness plac­ing short term eco­nomic prof­its over en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion is not sus­tain­able. A bal­ance is re­quired and what commercial in­ter­est choose to ig­nore, is that with­out the en­vi­ron­ment there would be no econ­omy.‘‘

The Dou­glas Reef Rally will start 11.30am on Sun­day and will be an hour-long event start­ing at the Surf Club at the north­ern end of Four Mile Beach, where par­tic­i­pants will spell out ‘‘SAVE THE REEF’’ in hu­man letters be­fore head­ing up Macrossan Street with a po­lice es­cort and into An­zac Park on Wharf St. There, there will be en­ter­tain­ment by lo­cal mu­si­cians the Walker Broth­ers and Tim­ber and Wood, along with guest speak­ers in­clud­ing Dou­glas Mayor Ju­lia Leu.

‘‘ I am ex­tremely con­cerned about the im­pact of the pro­posed Trin­ity Inlet mas­sive in­crease in dredg­ing right on our doorstep, ad­ja­cent to our Dou­glas coast­line,’’ Mayor Leu said.

‘‘ Dou­glas Shire has al­ways been where the ‘ Rain­for­est meets the Reef’ – any loss of World Her­itage sta­tus due to dam­age of our iconic na­tional land­scape that ev­ery­one has worked so hard for could be dev­as­tat­ing for our lo­cal and re­gional econ­omy.’’

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fend­ers Of­fice of North Queens­land, the Cairns and Far North En­vi­ron­ment Cen­tre, and Dou­glas-based ma­rine health non-profit Tan­garoa Blue have also been con­firmed as key­note speak­ers, with each speak­ing for five min­utes to pro­mote aware­ness and ed­u­ca­tion.

Ev­ery­one is wel­come to the Dou­glas Reef Rally and people are en­cour­aged to wear green and blue, bring an um­brella in case of rain and print out or cre­ate their own plac­ards.

Join the Face­book group for more i nfor­ma­tion and tag #SaveTheReef on so­cial me­dia. Any­one who would like to vol­un­teer to act as mar­shals on the day or would like more in­for­ma­tion on the protest can con­tact Kevin Eldridge on kevin@kstar­ or join the Dou­glas Reef Rally Face­book page.

* There will be an es­ti­mated 20 minute dis­rup­tion to traf­fic along Macrossan st on Sun­day Fe­bru­ary 23, when the Dou­glas Reef Rally will progress with po­lice es­cort from the Port Dou­glas Surf Club up Macrossan Street be­tween 12.20pm and 12.40pm.


PRO­TECT THE REEF: Rosie Wang, Kevin Eldridge and Kim Hur­ley

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