Fontes heads new en­vi­ron­ment group

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

THE Whit­sun­days has al­ways been con­sid­ered the heart of the Great Bar­rier Reef and now we have our own re­gional en­vi­ron­ment group to help pro­tect that claim.

Whit­sun­day lo­cal Tony Fontes is the new cam­paign manager for the re­cently es­tab­lished En­vi­ron­ment Coun­cil of Cen­tral Queens­land (ECoCeQ) - a re­gional or­gan­i­sa­tion based in the Mackay and Whit­sun­days area.

Mr Fontes has cam­paigned tire­lessly for the pro­tec­tion of the Great Bar­rier Reef and the Whit­sun­days en­vi­ron­ment in re­cent years and is cur­rently chair of the Great Bar­rier Reef Marine Park Author­ity Lo­cal Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee. He is di­rectly in­volved in the Or­der of Un­der­wa­ter Coral He­roes, Sea­grass Watch and Man­grove Watch and he stood as a can­di­date for The Greens at the re­cent state elec­tion.

While there are re­gional en­vi­ron­men­tal groups up and down the Queens­land coast, the Whit­sun­days has been with­out a re­gional voice un­til now.

The coun­cil’s aims are to work closely with ex­ist­ing groups in the re­gion to pro­tect en­vi­ron­men­tal val­ues in­clud­ing the cli­mate and the Great Bar­rier Reef.

“At the end of the day, it’s the grass roots move­ment that’s most ef­fec­tive in wak­ing gov­ern­ment up to the kind of poli­cies and changes that we need to pro­tect the reef and the en­vi­ron­ment as a whole,” Mr Fontes said.

“ECoCeQ will hope­fully help lots of smaller groups to co-or­di­nate and be­come more ef­fec­tive in their own right.”

ECoCeQ’s re­gion extends from St. Lawrence to Bowen, east to the ter­ri­to­rial lim­its of the Com­mon­wealth of Australia in­clud­ing the is­lands and the Great Bar­rier Reef and west to the Queens­land bor­der.

“It is im­por­tant to note that ECoCeQ will be look­ing both east to the Great Bar­rier Reef as well as west to the Queens­land out­back,” Mr Fontes said.

“Many of the pres­sures on the reef are land-based, such as catch­ment runoff. As well, cli­mate change is high on our agenda and the main driv­ers be­hind cli­mate change are fos­sil fu­els.”

Mr Fontes said the new po­si­tion was an op­por­tu­nity to get more en­gaged in the “big­ger pic­ture”.

“One a per­sonal ba­sis, I wanted to go that next step up,” he said.

“I’ve been a vol­un­teer for a long time and... I hope that I can now be a lit­tle more ef­fec­tive at do­ing what I love, which is pro­tect­ing the reef.”

ECoCeQ wants to as­sist in­di­vid­u­als and lo­cal groups in Cen­tral Queens­land to take up en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues.

Peo­ple in the re­gion who would like to join ECoCeQ or per­haps start their own lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment group can con­tact tony@ecoceq.org.au.

STILL GREEN: Tony Fontes, who re­cently con­tested the state seat of Whit­sun­day for The Greens, has now stepped into a new role as cam­paign or­gan­iser for the re­gion's lat­est en­vi­ron­ment group the En­vi­ron­ment Coun­cil of Cen­tral Queens­land.

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