Battle to save the reef is not over

DESPITE success in turning around plans to dump dredge spoil in Great Barrier Reef marine park waters, conservationists say the fight is not over.

At Reef Hour on Hamilton Island, stirring speeches advocated further protection of the reef.

Conservationists, scientists and economists spoke of the reef's importance and the necessity to continue action to protect it.

Support came from around the world, with many travelling to the region to join the "fight".

Nellie MacDonald moved to Airlie Beach from NSW to take up a role with the Australian Marine Conservation Society. She said the reef's beauty drew her to the region to stop the impact of proposed dredge spoil dumping in the area

"I was impressed by the diversity in the audience at Reef Hour," she said. "The panel discussed a range of angles including financial analysis. It was very interesting."

About 100 people attended the event.

Original plans to dump dredge spoil from the Abbot Point Coal Terminal expansion into marine park waters have been switched to a new land-based dumping site near the Caley Valley Wetlands.

Ms MacDonald said the public needed to be aware that the conservationists were not satisfied solely with an end to plans for dredge spoil disposal in GBR waters.

"It is a major concern that the wetlands have become an alternative," she said.

"People think we have won by stopping it (water-based dredge spoil disposal) but that's not true.

It's basically a battle between money and the environment unfortunately. It can be disheartening."

Reef Hour included a Q&A format with a panel led by economist Tim Buckley. He discussed the possibility of stranded assets caused by a lower worldwide demand for coal in the future.

Event organiser Cherry Muddle said Hamilton Island's first Reef Hour event was a "huge success".



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