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SEI News: Iain McCalman attends the Ellison Reef Saved 50th anniversary

‘Magnificent colours in the Great Barrier Reef’ by JC Photo. Stock photo ID: 154199480.

Last week, SEI Co-Director, Professor Iain McCalman was the moderator at the Ellison Reef Saved 50th anniversary event.

The event was held in Mission Beach, Queensland, and celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the successful grassroots activism to protect Ellison Reef. The campaign began in 1967, in an attempt to stop the coral of Ellison Reef from being harvested for sugar cane fertiliser. Later, campaigners fought against the Queensland Governments attempts to open the reef up to mining for crude oil, natural gas and cement.

The fiftieth-anniversary event paid homage to the activism of diver Eddie Hegerl, who helped gather the scientific evidence which stopped the Queensland Government and established the legal precedent for protecting the whole Great Barrier Reef through the establishment of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

A number of high profile activists for the Great Barrier Reef joined McCalman at the event, including Eddie Hegerl, and marine biologist Dr. John (Charlie) Veron, who is hailed as the first full-time researcher on the Great Barrier Reef.

In an article by Kathy McLeish, for ABC News Brisbane, McCalman explains that the activism which saved the Reef was significant because “These were ordinary people, they were up against enormous odds and they won.” Since then, the sea temperatures surrounding the Great Barrier reef have risen and caused two consecutive major coral bleaching events, which are having detrimental impacts on the life of corals and the Great Barrier Reefs ecosystem. McCalman explained that the 50th-anniversary event hoped to “re-inspire people because we’re against enormous odds again.” You can read the full article here.

To watch footage of the ABC Sunday News story of the event (at 26 minutes), click here.

Earlier this year, McCalman wrote a detailed blog about the Ellison Reef activism and activists, called We can save the Great Barrier Reef because we did it once before. Read the full blog here.