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The story so far

2013 was a big year in the Fight for the Reef. Together, we have achieved incredible things. Watch the video to see the highlights! The fight is not over yet, there is still work to be done and we need as many people with us as possible. Join us in 2014.

Campaign outline

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the natural wonders of the world.

But it is under threat from the most widespread, rapid and damaging set of industrial developments in Queensland’s history.

The Queensland Government is fast-tracking mega port developments, dredging and dumping of millions of tonnes of seabed and rock, and encouraging a shipping superhighway.

The Australian Government is approving these developments, including the world’s biggest coal port at Abbot Point, 50 km from the Whitsunday Islands.

It’s your Reef, but you’re going to have to fight for it.

Fight for the Reef is a partnership between WWF-Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

Fight for the Reef is working with the Australian and international community to protect the Reef and the $6 billion tourism industry and 60,000 jobs it supports.

Our aims

The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the industrialisation occurring on the Great Barrier Reef’s coastline.

Specifically, the campaign seeks to:

  • Immediately implement a moratorium on approving new development until a sustainable development plan for the Great Barrier Reef is completed.
  • Permanently prohibit new port developments outside existing, long-established major ports.
  • Ensure no dredge material is dumped within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
  • Improve existing industrial developments along the Reef’s coastline to ensure they operate at the world’s best practice standards.
  • Limit ship numbers and anchorages and improve management to a level that ensures no impacts on the Reef.
  • Invest considerable new funding in protecting and restoring key Reef ecosystems.

Fight for the Reef partners

AMCS LogoThe Australian Marine Conservation Society is the leading charity devoted solely to caring for Australia’s oceans and their wildlife. Formed in 1965 it has a proud history of success, having protected the Great Barrier Reef from coral mining and oil and gas exploration and since then driven campaigns to promote sustainable fisheries, protect marine wildlife and create marine parks around Australia.

WWF LogoWWF-Australia is an Australian registered charity established over 35 years ago. In Australia and throughout the oceanic region, we work with governments, businesses and communities so that people and nature can thrive within their fair share of the planet’s natural resources. Since the late 1990s, conservation of the Great Barrier Reef has been one of WWF-Australia’s highest priorities.

Campaign team

Australian Marine Conservation Society:

Darren Kindleysides, Director

Felicity Wishart, Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director

Lissa Schindler, Great Barrier Reef Campaigner


Ghislaine (Gilly) Llewellyn, Conservation Director

Richard Leck, Great Barrier Reef Campaign Leader

Nick Heath, National Manager – Freshwater

Media Contacts

Jane Garcia – 0434 489 533 or

Daniel Rockett – 0432 206 592 or


What is the Queensland Government actually doing to the Reef?

The Queensland Government has been watering down environmental protection and fast-tracking approvals for ports and LNG plants along the Reef’s coast. It is committed to supporting industrialisation regardless of the impacts and is more concerned with the interests of the mining industry than it is about the impacts of coal ports and other developments on the Reef. Why else would they want to build the world’s largest coal port 50 km from the Whitsunday Islands?

What can the Federal Government do to stop this damage from taking place?

The Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage Area and primary responsibility for its health and management rests with the Australian Government. The Reef is for all Australians, not just big industry. If the Queensland Government can’t look after the Reef, the Australian Government should step in, because the Reef and its tourism industry are too important to lose.

The Reef has World Heritage status. Doesn’t that mean it is already protected?

World Heritage Areas should have the world’s best protection, but that is not the case for the Reef. There are many activities that occur in and adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area that impact its health. In recent years we have seen improvements in the management of some of these activities, such as fishing and agricultural runoff, but we have serious concerns that industrial development along the Reef is having major impacts on its World Heritage values.

Why is the International World Heritage Committee concerned about the Reef?

In June 2011 the international World Heritage Committee expressed “extreme concern” over the approval of a number of major developments along the Reef coast. In March 2012, the Committee conducted a monitoring mission and visited Queensland. Following this visit, the Committee recommended a series of actions that the Australian Government needs to implement to improve protection of the Reef. If the Government does not respond adequately, the Committee may place the Great Barrier Reef on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Will ports and shipping really affect the Reef?

Port developments and shipping pose a huge threat to the Reef. Ports require millions of tonnes of dredging to establish channels and berthing facilities and there are plans to dump large amounts of this material in the Reef’s waters. Dredging threatens the feeding and breeding grounds of sensitive species like turtles and dugongs. We’ve already seen huge impacts on the southern Reef from port development and shipping. Current plans will mean over a 50-fold increase in dumping along the Reef in the coming years. The World Heritage Committee is greatly concerned, as are we.

The Reef is 3,000 km long and ships only pass through limited sections. How can they really damage the Reef?

Port developments are occurring along the entire Reef coast – from Gladstone in the south to the Cape in the north. The plan is for over 7,000 bulk carriers to crisscross the Reef every year, almost doubling the current numbers. Just one collision, error or spill could be disastrous for the Reef.

Mining is critical to our economy and jobs. Won’t this campaign hurt people’s jobs and the economy?

Tourism has the potential to sustain jobs long after the current ‘boom’, but only if we look after the things that tourists from around the world want to see – like a healthy Great Barrier Reef. Tourism on the Reef is an annual $6 billion industry and supports over 60,000 jobs. With mining, around 83% of the profits go overseas and if not properly managed and regulated, mining can affect other people’s livelihood for the worse.

What can I do to Fight for the Reef?

It’s your Reef, but you are going to have to fight for it. Join our growing community of concerned Australians and help improve protection of the Reef. You can also let your friends and family know about what is taking place along the Queensland coast – the development has been so fast that people simply don’t know any more what is happening and where.

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© 2013 Australian Marine Conservation Society | Authorised by the Darren Kindleysides Australian Marine Conservation Society, 4/145 Melbourne St South Brisbane QLD 4101