Opal takes our Great Barrier Reef stories worldwide
SPEAKING for those who don't have a voice is something Opal Sternbaum is passionate about.
Making her way up the coast of Queensland, the Greenpeace activist told the Capricorn Coast Mirror last week she was visiting coastal towns to listen to locals about their connection with the reef.
Her goal is to hear people's stories about their area, and to collate and present them to UNESCO and the Australian Government by July 3, before a decision is handed down on the protection of the Reef.
Ms Sternbaum said spent the past two weeks hearing from local environmental groups between Yeppoon and Gladstone, and the feedback was positive.
"I came here to engage with locals and hear from them how they interact with the Reef and how proposed developments like Abbott Point or GKI might influence their relationship with the Reef," the-20-year-old said.
"The response has been strong; this area relies on the reef for recreational purposes and for jobs as well to some extent.
"People here have seen what happened in Gladstone and are quite cautious about what is to be approved in other developments for the area."
Ms Sternbaum's work will also be spread via social media to promote protection of the Reef.
"We're calling on UNESCO to keep a watch on the Reef," she said.
"There seems to be a lot of local concern about the impact the GKI development would have on the Reef.
"After seeing the impacts developments had in Gladstone, locals are cautious about dredging, which causes water problems when the sea bed is disturbed.
"We want the government to put the Reef first, this is what the community wants, which is why we're collecting their stories and ensuring their voices are heard."
Ms Sternbaum's next stop is Mackay, which also has strong concerns about the health of the Reef.
"It's something we all need to deal with and take ownership and control of," she said.
If you would like to have your say, sign the Save The Reef Petition greenpeace.org/australia/