Do you have the feeling this is a make or break year for the Reef? Seems everywhere you turn there is another appeal, another petition, another news headline (mostly bad, some very very bad), another list of reasons about why we must, must, MUST save the Reef, another list of threats showing just how hard this going to be.
One thing we know is that most of the Reef, for all the efforts made over the last 50 years, is in poor shape and is getting worse. The official phrase is “serious and significant decline” – and this is not just for a bit of it (off Gladstone or Abbot Point for example) and not just because we’ve had a couple of bad cyclones in the last 10 years. The description comes from GBRMPA and applies to two-thirds of our precious Reef – from (approximately) Cooktown, south to Gladstone.
If you are being deluged by appeals and information from all quarters and want some clarification of what is happening, how to help or where to donate I hope the following will help you.
Legal action in process
1. A legal challenge to GBRMPA’s recent decision* on dumping of dredge spoil is being pursued by the North Queensland Conservation Council with the Queensland Office of the Environmental Defenders Office acting on their behalf. *This was the quite shocking decision to grant a permit to North Queensland Bulk Ports allowing the dumping of dredge spoil, to be excavated during the Abbot Point port expansion, in Marine Park waters.
2. Meanwhile, in Cairns the North Queensland Office of Environmental Defenders (EDO NQ) has a bold and imaginative plan to create a legal personality for the Great Barrier Reef. If this sounds a strange, even bizarre, concept rest assured it is not.
EDO NQ points out that inanimate constructs, like Corporations, have legal personality now and can seek justice through the courts. In New Zealand the Whanganui River has been granted similar status and trustees are able to act on its behalf to protect it from harm. After months of research EDO NQ believes now is the time to launch the campaign to obtain legal personality for our Reef. More details here.
Want to help? Here are a few ways ….
1. Sign the change.org petition to call for a national plebiscite to create a legal personality for the Reef. This takes about a minute and costs nothing. Pass the link on to your friends and colleagues.
2. Become a member of EDO NQ and help keep this essential service active and strong. Membership is a modest $30, or $10 (concession) – click here for info.
3. Donate to EDO NQ to support the legal personality campaign and all the incredible work that they do for the community and the environment. Prime Minister Abbott recently, and without notice, stripped all funding from EDOs around the country, making them now entirely dependent on public donations.
5. Donate to WWF Reef Appeal 2014 – This appeal helps fund the ongoing campaign to protect the Reef, separate from the legal challenge. Triple your contribution!! Money donated to this fund before 31st March will be augmented by The Thomas Foundation at the rate of $2 for every $1 you donate. This Foundation helped establish the Fight for the Reef Campaign which is run jointly by WWF and AMCS (Australian Marine Conservation Society)
6. Donate to North Queensland Conservation Council - right here in Townsville, they are the ones fighting the environmental battles on our doorstep.
7. Write, ring or email our politicians from the top level down. Email us for names and contact details.
8. And while you’re at it send a message to Clive Palmer to stop pumping toxic wastewater into reef waters.
Donations to EDO, Fight for the Reef, WWF and NQCC are tax deductible.