Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Sharon Small­wood

MORE than 300 peo­ple from all walks of life have joined Whit­sun­day Res­i­dents Against Dump­ing (WRAD) in cre­at­ing a spec­tac­u­lar on-wa­ter heart for­ma­tion in support of the Great Bar­rier Reef.

The Whit­sun­day Flotilla for the Reef, held at the Can­non­vale marine club on Sun­day morn­ing, was one of two Queens­land events aimed at per­suad­ing the State and Fed­eral Gov­ern­ments to ban the dump­ing of dredge spoil in the wa­ters of the Great Bar­rier Reef.

WRAD spokesper­son, Brit­tney Gre­gory, said the turnout was fan­tas­tic, with the Whit­sun­day com­mu­nity join­ing to­gether to ask for bet­ter pro­tec­tion for the reef and Ca­ley Val­ley wet­lands at Ab­bot Point.

“The heart sig­ni­fied our love for the reef [and] we cre­ated a heart on land as well to show that we are united as a com­mu­nity – it’s not just the tourism op­er­a­tors and of­fi­cials that are con­cerned, it’s ev­ery­one within the Whit­sun­days, from farm­ers to ev­ery- day peo­ple in of­fices,” she said. Whit­sun­day Char­ter Boat As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent, Tony Brown, agreed with this, say­ing Sun­day’s turnout high­lighted the im­por­tance of the bar­rier reef to ev­ery­one.

“So many peo­ple are re­ally en­gaged in the health of the Great Bar­rier Reef and want to save this world her­itage sev­enth won­der of the world,” he said.

Ms Gre­gory and Mr Brown were joined at the event by a num­ber of speak­ers in­clud­ing founder of the Or­der of Un­der­wa­ter Co­ral He­roes (OUCH) Tony Fontes, Aus­tralian Marine Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety (AMCS) spokesper­son Cherry Mud­dle, and In­dian ac­tivist Debi Goenka, who is cur­rently chal­leng­ing the ap­proval of the enor­mous Carmichael mine in the Queens­land Land Court.

Mr Goenka said in his opin­ion “the coal should re­main in Aus­tralia where it be­longs”.

"When this coal is burnt in power sta­tions in In­dia, it will hurt the health, en­vi­ron­ment and liveli­hoods of the poor there, and th­ese peo­ple can nei­ther af­ford nor ac­cess the power from that coal,” he said.

"My or­gan­i­sa­tion and I are fight­ing the Adani Group's plans here in the Queens­land courts [and] we stand with Aus­tralians in ris­ing up to pro­tect your iconic reef, your liveli­hoods and your way of life.”

Ms Mud­dle re­minded the crowd that the Great Bar­rier Reef Marine Park was an in­ter­na­tional icon “not a dump­ing site”.

“The Reef and the wet­lands are frag­ile en­vi­ron­ments and are al­ready un­der pres­sure from many threats. Dump­ing dredge spoil at sea could dam­age crit­i­cal nurs­eries, feed­ing and breed­ing grounds for the reef’s fish, tur­tles and dugongs,” she said.

Mr Fontes said even though there had been a decision at Ab­bot Point to think twice about dredge spoils “it’s not enough”.

ON WA­TER AC­TION: Par­tic­i­pants in Sun­day's Flotilla for the Reef made a heart-shaped for­ma­tion in the wa­ters off the Whit­sun­day Marine Club.

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