Cherry’s reef fight in Bonn

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

AIR­LIE Beach res­i­dent Cherry Mud­dle is so de­ter­mined to fight for stronger pro­tec­tion of the Great Bar­rier Reef, she’s in­tend­ing to take the mes­sage to UNESCO’s World Her­itage Com­mit­tee her­self.

On Satur­day, Ms Mud­dle will leave the place she calls home and fly to Ger­many where the World Her­itage Com­mit­tee is meet­ing on June 29 to fi­nally vote on whether the reef will be la­belled “en­dan­gered” or kept on a watch list for the next two years.

The Aus­tralian Marine Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety cam­paigner says she will speak from the heart about the beauty of the reef and how pas­sion­ately the lo­cal com­mu­nity sup­ports its pro­tec­tion.

“Our great nat­u­ral won­der is un­der threat from mas­sive port ex­pan­sion, from farm run-off and from global warm­ing,” she said.

“We need the help of the World Her­itage Com­mit­tee and the eyes of the world to en­sure that the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment re­jects fur­ther port ex­pan­sion, in­vests in ac­tion to re­duce run-off from farms and does far more to curb global warm­ing.

“We can save the reef if we take fast and ef­fec­tive ac­tion but our gov­ern­ment is not do­ing enough.”

Ms Mud­dle says she wants to share sto­ries from the Whit­sun­day com­mu­nity’s pas­sion­ate two-year fight to pro­tect the reef. “We’ve faced many chal­lenges, held colour­ful ac­tions, built pow­er­ful al­liances, had Aus­tralian icons stand­ing with us and had strong tourism voices stand­ing up for our reef. And to­gether, we’ve achieved some in­creased pro­tec­tion for our reef, which is the lifeblood of the Whit­sun­days,” she said.

“But there is still a long way to go. We are priv­i­leged that if the right de­ci­sions are made now, we can keep the reef safe for­ever – but our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers must take real ac­tion now.

Ms Mud­dle’s love for the ocean stems from a child­hood of ex­plor­ing the Aus­tralian seashore, is­lands, and fring­ing reefs.

She de­scribes her first scuba dive in the Whit­sun­days like Alice fall­ing down the rab­bit hole, im­mersed in an ethe­real world of colour, beauty, and en­chant­ment.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from a Bach­e­lor of Tourism Man­age­ment and En­vi­ron­men­tal Science at South­ern Cross Univer­sity, she com­pleted an in­tern­ship at the Nin­ga­loo Reef.

Her pas­sion for the ocean has led her on many ad­ven­tures in­clud­ing kayak­ing around the Whit­sun­day is­lands, work­ing on yachts from the Mediter­ranean to the South China Sea, surf­ing in South Amer­ica, div­ing with grey nurse sharks at Fish Rock Cave, and free div­ing through Cenotes in Mexico.

She has also worked on a sail­ing boat in the Whit­sun­days, where she stud­ied coral reefs and pas­sion­ately ed­u­cated guests on marine con­ser­va­tion.

Ms Mud­dle be­lieves the 39th ses­sion of the World Her­itage Com­mit­tee should agree with the draft de­ci­sion to keep the reef un­der watch for the next two years and at the end of that time as­sess whether the prom­ises of the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment’s Reef 2050 Plan are be­ing kept. She has added her sig­na­ture to the half-mil­lion strong “draw the line” pe­ti­tion to be pre­sented to the WHC in Bonn.

GER­MANY-BOUND: Air­lie Beach res­i­dent Cherry Mud­dle.

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