Father of crocodile hunter Steve Irwin launches campaign to save Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

 

Sydney

The father of crocodile hunter Steve Irwin has launched a multimillion pound campaign to save Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Septugenarian Bob Irwin, whose son was killed by a stingray while diving on the reef in 2006, warned today that if people did not act now the coral would be ruined.

The elderly conservationist claimed industrial activity was threatening Australia’s great natural wonder by dumping mud and rock in the reef’s waters and turning it into a shipping superhighway,

“It’s your reef but you’re going to have to fight for it,” he said in a TV advertisement. “The reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, but our governments seem to have forgotten that fact. The Australian people are the only ones who can make a difference to protecting the reef.”

Mr Irwin’s campaign follows growing domestic and international disquiet about the future of the spectacular marine environment, which is the world’s largest coral reef system, stretching more than 1,600 miles along Australia’s north-east coast.

The United Nations’ World Heritage advisory body recently expressed serious misgivings about plans to export uranium across the Reef.

Unesco also warned earlier this year that the world heritage-listed site could be declared in danger if Australia failed to guard against gas, mining and port developments.

But Mr Irwin’s attack on authorities for fast-tracking port and industrial development along the coast has angered the Queensland government.

Environment Minister Andrew Powell described the claims as mischievous, pledging to strike the right balance between environmental protection and sustainable development.  “Our department rigorously assesses all development applications to ensure the highest environmental standards are met,” he added.

Mr Powell also insisted that Queensland had a strategy to ensure that the construction of port facilities took place in a responsible fashion.

But marine conservationists are not convinced.  

Felicity Wishart, campaign director for the Australian Marine Conservation Society, which along with WWF-Australia is behind the Irwin initiative, said the threat to the reef was deeply troubling.

“The Queensland government is fast-tracking mega ports along the Reef and planning to dump millions of tonnes of mud and rock in the Reef’s waters,” she claimed. “In 2012 less than half a million tonnes of dredge spoil was dumped in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area. In 2015 it’s predicted that figure will explode out to 23.5 million tonnes – a massive fifty-fold increase.”

Regarded as one of the world’s great natural wonders, the sprawling network of coral islands and reefs provides a home for 1500 species of fish.

It also plays a key role in the regional economy, helping to create more than 60,000 jobs.

But even greater financial pickings are luring investors to its shores with mining and shipping magnates keen to exploit Queensland’s natural resources.

Coal mines, gas projects and port expansions valued at more than 50 billion pounds are being built or planned.

That in turn is expected to increase the number of shipping movements inside the Great Barrier Reef to more than 10,000 a year, with all the inherent dangers from accidental oil and  chemical spillage.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s top attractions, drawing tourists from all over the world and generating an estimated four billion pounds  a year.

But as Felicity Wishart points out, “No one is going to come half way around the world to see mega industrial ports.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Mock the tweet: Ukip leader Nigel Farage and comedian Frankie Boyle
peopleIt was a polite exchange of words, as you can imagine
Arts and Entertainment
Steven, Ella Jade and Sarah in the boardroom
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch is reported to be in final negotiations to play Doctor Strange for Marvel although the casting has not yet been confirmed
film
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Life and Style
fashion

World Beard and Moustache Championships held last week

News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Copycat culture: the Chateau Zhang Laffitte in China, top, and the building which inspired it, in Paris, bottom
architectureReplicas of Western landmarks are springing up in unlikely places
Sport
Rolando Aarons watches as his effort finds the corner of the Manchester City goal to give Newcastle the lead
footballManchester City 0 Newcastle 2: Holders crash out on home turf
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Supply Teacher - Northants

£90 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Primary School Supply Teache...

Maths Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Maths Teacher - Saffro...

Chemistry Teacher - Top School in Malaysia - January Start

£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

Geography Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Geography Teacher - ...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain