1st August 2018
This month tourism operators in and around the Great Barrier Reef have called for robust action to protect the World Heritage reef.
In a declaration signed by local businesses across an array of concerned industries, the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators (AMPTO) and the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) called on the Australian government to “join the rest of the world to rapidly phase out coal and other fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy”.
Reef Campaign Director at AMCS, Imogen Zethoven, admitted that the industry was “in a state of shock” following the initial 2016 mass coral bleaching where it had continued to resist climate change discussions.
After the devastation was repeated in 2017, Ms Zethoven says that there is now widespread recognition that global warming “is an existential threat to the reef and the tourism industry”.
“On climate change, I’m sold,” confirmed Col McKenzie, Chief Executive of the AMPTO.
“It’s a man-made issue”.
The industry now stands united in their belief that “climate change, mainly driven by burning coal and other fossil fuels, is the single biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef.”
“The carbon pollution from coal, oil and gas is heating the air and the oceans to dangerous levels.
"It’s not too late to save our Reef but time is critical."
Tony Fontes, a Whitsundays diver operator spoke to Fairfax Media, referring to the AMPTO’s new stance as “a huge step”.
“It’s overdue but it’s happening. Basically, we need a mass campaign”.
The declaration concluded by calling on the federal government to “honour the Paris Agreement and to protect the Reef on behalf of all Australians, all humanity and future generations,” despite “our representatives continu[ing] to support the expansion of coal and gas, including Adani’s mega coal mine”.
Acting Director of Field Management at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Mark Read reiterated the sentiment in calling climate change “the thing that the global community most desperately needs to tackle if we’re going to…give the reef areal possible change for a long term future".