De­bate heats up over UNESCO de­ci­sion

Whitsunday Times - - WHITSUNDAY VIEWS -

UNESCO’s World Her­itage Com­mit­tee has given the Aus­tralian Govern­ment a 12-month re­prieve be­fore de­cid­ing whether or not to add the Great Bar­rier Reef to an en­dan­gered list.

The reef was listed as a World Her­itage site in 1981 but at the re­cent 38th ses­sion of the World Her­itage Com­mit­tee, UNESCO warned that with­out proper man­age­ment, it could be placed on a list of World Her­itage in Dan­ger sites in 2015.

Spokesper­son for Whit­sun­day Res­i­dents Against Dump­ing, Brit­tney Gre­gory, said this was the fi­nal warn­ing to the govern­ment to re­ally com­mit to pro­tect­ing the reef.

“If the Great Bar­rier Reef were to be put on the ‘in dan­ger’ list, it would not only be a na­tional shame, but it would also have a dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect on our lo­cal tourism in­dus­try,” she said. Lo­cal tourism op­er­a­tor Tony Brown, who is at the fore­front of a cam­paign to stop sea-dump­ing of dredge spoil at the coal port of Ab­bot Point, said UNESCO’s de­ci­sion had bol­stered his con­cerns.

“We shouldn’t lose jobs in tourism to cre­ate jobs in min­ing,” he said.

“We’re not against min­ing, but as users of the ma­rine park they need to do best prac­tice just like ev­ery other in­dus­try is do­ing. There are bet­ter op­tions and they haven’t been fully looked into yet.”

How­ever, the Queens­land Re­sources Coun­cil (QRC) has la­belled UNESCO’s de­ci­sion “a vote of confi- dence in Aus­tralia’s on­go­ing man­age­ment of the iconic Great Bar­rier Reef”.

QRC’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael Roche said the Federal and State Gov­ern­ments’ progress on im­prov­ing the reef’s man­age­ment and health was ev­i­dent from the re­cently re­leased Queens­land Ports Strat­egy and Reef Wa­ter Qual­ity Re­port Card.

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