Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - Gre­gor Mac­tag­gart Gre­gor.Mac­tag­gart@whit­sun­day­

THE time has come for a co­ral re­search fa­cil­ity to be based in the Whit­sun­days and a lo­cal res­i­dent reck­ons he has the right place for it – Shute Har­bour.

Long-time Can­non­vale res­i­dent Jim Jarvis is at the heart of a plan to de­velop a liv­ing co­ral dis­play and the­atrette.

Shute Har­bour, in the midst of be­ing re­built, fol­low­ing se­vere dam­age caused by Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Deb­bie in March 2017, is the prime spot ac­cord­ing to Mr Jarvis.

“My de­sire is to see the in­clu­sion of a fa­cil­ity like this at Shute Har­bour that can show­case our Great Bar­rier Reef and re­gion,” he told the Whit­sun­day Times.

“The Whit­sun­days needs to in­form tourists that we are ac­tively en­gaged in the process of de­vel­op­ing and re­search­ing stronger co­ral species that are more re­silient to the im­me­di­ate faced threats.

“With cli­mate warm­ing and ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion, all reef sys­tems are at great risk of be­ing se­verely im­pacted in the im­me­di­ate fu­ture.

“We need a link the chain with the re­spected re­search cen­tres in­clud­ing James Cook Uni­ver­sity, AIMS, CSIRO, GBRMPA and of course the new player in the game, the Great Bar­rier Reef Foun­da­tion.”

Mr Jarvis said the fa­cil­ity would cost $4 mil­lion to build and with a fed­eral elec­tion pend­ing in 2019, is call­ing on both sides of the po­lit­i­cal di­vide to ex­am­ine the mer­its of the fa­cil­ity.

“I’d love the feds to show us the money,” he said.

“I’ve had some ini­tial dis­cus­sions with (Mem­ber for Daw­son) Ge­orge Chris­tensen and La­bor has an­nounced their can­di­date in Belinda Has­san and I’d look for­ward to talk­ing to her.

“There is no doubt that $4 mil­lion would ef­fec­tively get the project off the ground and un­der­way.

“It is the old acorn prin­ci­ple, if you plant the acorn then an oak tree will grow over time.”

Mr Jarvis has spo­ken with en­gi­neer­ing ex­perts, in­clud­ing renowned lo­cal en­gi­neer Gary God­dard, who be­lieve the fa­cil­ity could fea­ture in Stage 1 of the Shute Har­bour Post Cy­clone Re­de­vel­op­ment.

“Con­struc­tion cranes and equip­ment will al­ready be on the ground,” he said.

“We are not re­quir­ing a large ocea­narium, we want tourists to be out on and un­der the wa­ter as much as pos­si­ble.

“The fa­cil­ity would in­clude one larger type tank or two or three smaller glass tanks.

“The the­atrette could seat up to 50 peo­ple and can be of the type used at dis­plays you see in the cap­i­tal cities, fea­tur­ing dis­plays of the rich his­tory of the Ngaro peo­ple.

“I’m sure Nigel Scul­lion, the cur­rent min­is­ter for In­dige­nous Af­fairs, would be happy to co-op­er­ate with such a project and of­fer ini­tial fi­nanc­ing.”

Mr God­dard, who based in the Whit­sun­days re­gion for the past 33 years, be­lieves Mr Jarvis’s plan is a good idea.

“Jim came and asked me whether I thought the plan had merit and I be­lieve it does,” he said.

“At the mo­ment I’m en­gaged in the project putting in the art sculp­ture­saround the reef and men­tioned to Reef Eco­logic’s Dr Adam Smith about if they needed an area to cul­ti­vate th­ese corals then there was a pos­si­bil­ity of this hap­pen­ing at Shute Har­bour.

“I think Shute Har­bour could in­cor­po­rate some­thing like this fa­cil­ity long-term and help en­sure the re­ju­ve­na­tion of co­ral.”

With tourist num­bers climb­ing year on year , Mr Jarvis added this fa­cil­ity would serve mul­ti­ple pur­poses.

“We are head­ing to­wards the 1 mil­lion tourists per an­num and this fig­ure will grow sub­stan­tially in the next decade as tourism ven­tures, and ac­com­mo­da­tion will be re-opened, and new is­land re­sorts are de­vel­oped,” he said.

SHOW US THE MONEY: Mark Win­ter, Jim Jarvis and Gale Win­ter are push­ing for a co­ral re­search fa­cil­ity to be built at Shute Har­bour and are call­ing on the Fed­eral Govern­ment for sup­port.

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