Press release – 16 April, 2013Wednesday April 17, Airlie Beach: The Rainbow Warrior sailed into the "heart of the reef" in Airlie Beach today where the captain spoke with tourism representatives about protecting the Great Barrier Reef."Eco-tourism operators on the Great Barrier Reef play an important role in caring for this natural wonder," said Greenpeace Program Director Ben Pearson.
"Many tourism operators are leading the way protecting the Reef with activities like coral health monitoring, removing crown of thorns starfish and implementing their own best environmental practices."
"If the proposed expansions at Abbot Point and Dudgeon Point go ahead however, the Whitsunday Islands could soon be wedged between two of the world’s biggest coal ports."
Dive instructor Tony Fontes has worked in the tourism industry for 30 years and is the chair of the local marine advisory committee.
"There are tens of thousands of people like me who make a living from the Great Barrier Reef," said Mr Fontes.
“The current expansion of coal exports along the Queensland coast is putting the Great Barrier Reef and our livelihoods at risk, not to mention the health and well-being of the thousands of animals that live on the Reef."
"Industrial coal port developments will damage delicate coastal environments and coal exports will worsen climate change, causing more coral bleaching," Mr Fontes said.
The captain of the Rainbow Warrior, Pete Willcox said, "We’ve had an amazing warm welcome here in Airlie Beach from tourism operators and the people of the Whitsundays.”
"As an American I know when people think of Australia, they think of the Great Barrier Reef. It’s crazy to be expanding coal exports right through the middle of it."
"We still have a chance to save the Reef from the ravages of climate change, but we have to take strong action now to reduce the amount of coal we’re burning, not let it increase."
For interviews, contact:
Greenpeace Media Advisor Elsa Evers, 0438 204 041 or Louise Matthiesson, 0406 041 428
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