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.”

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on