Save the Great Barrier Reef

The following is an assignment written in August for the General News Reporting course I took this semester. The prompt was to write a local hard news article to be published in a local paper. I wasn’t completely happy with the end result, but I think I did okay given no one really wanted to talk to me:

Environmental Impact of Proposed Port Expansion on the Reef Provokes Protests

Proposed mega-ports and expansion along the coast of the Great Barrier Reef were protested in Brisbane on August 25th. More than 3000 protesters marched through Brisbane streets to call for stronger protection of the reef from politicians.

The plans proposed by the Queensland Government and the Adani (Adani) Group would involve extensive dredging around Abbot point and result in increased shipping traffic along the coast. The ecological repercussions of such expansion going forth improperly managed could be catastrophic, according to Greg Skilleter (Greg Skilleter) of the Marine and Estuarine Ecology Unit at the University of Queensland.

“One of the biggest visible issues with dredging” says Dr Skilleter, “… is it makes the water murky.” This, he explains, stops light from passing through the water, which affects the growth of certain kinds of plankton and coral, which causes a knock on effect right up the food chain.

In the weeks leading up to the election last weekend, both major political parties spoke of the need to protect the reef. “It’s a positive step forward,” said Felicity Wishart (Felicity Wishart), campaign director at the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

Ms Wishart was positive about the reaction to the protest last month, and is confident that this issue is one that people care about. “The majority of Queenslanders … supported a ban on dumping dredge waste in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef,” she said of a recent poll of nine electorates along the coast and in the southeast of Queensland.

And with good reason, “Those sediments don’t just land back where they came from… and they smother anything they land on,” said Greg Skilleter on the topic of dredge waste. The potential for pollutants in these sediments is high, further endangering the reef ecosystem.

“Australians love the Great Barrier Reef” says Felicity Wishart, “Once people are made aware of the planned future range of developments along the Reef, their concern for this natural wonder only grows.”

Ms Wishart and the rest of Fight for the Reef and the Australian Marine Conservation Society plan to continue to raise awareness about the industrialisation and its impact as the new parliament makes vital decisions about the future of the reef.


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