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Bishops in call to boost effort safeguard Great Barrier Reef

Queensland's seven Bishops will today launch a landmark Pastoral Letter calling for a renewed effort to safeguard the Great Barrier Reef, which they call a "wonder of creation".

A media release from the Australian Bishops' agency Catholic Earthcare Australia says the document, to be launched in Townsville, highlights the "unique nature of the Reef and some of the wonderful work being done to preserve it". It also points to some of the threats to its well-being and future and calls for increased vigilance and cooperation in caring for it.

"As the Catholic Bishops of Queensland, we have written this letter to emphasise our shared ecological responsibility for one of our greatest natural treasures, the Great Barrier Reef," the letter says. "Care for the environment and a keener ecological awareness have become key moral issues for the Christian conscience.

"Not only is the Reef a precious ecosystem in itself, but also an integral part of the one web of planetary life that connects us all - the human species and all species of the land and sea, rainforest and reef, mountains, plains and inland desert."

The Bishops express solidarity with those whose livelihoods have been affected by preservation of the Reef, saying the implementation of new responsibilities was inevitably painful, and some bore a disproportionate burden.

"As pastors we are deeply concerned for the well being of these people and wish to support them and their families in every way possible," they said.

"Continuing consultation with industry groups, the renewable energy sector, conservation groups, government agencies and the communities most affected is imperative if genuine progress in the Reef preservation project is to be maintained."

The letter points to several significant issues that must be addressed to ensure the survival, the diversity, the beauty and the integrity of the Reef.

These issues included the threats of sediment run-off from the land, sewage outflow, deteriorating water quality and over-fishing as well as problems associated with climate change, in particular coral bleaching and rising sea levels.

"Protection of the Reef is a common cause for the common good. It is promoted most effectively through active co-operation, up to date information, and healthy debate on unresolved issues.

"The Church desires to contribute to the public dialogue by explaining how its ecological and social justice teachings serve to safeguard the integrity of creation, promote the common good and protect the health and well being of both human and non-human communities."

Queensland Bishops call for renewed effort to safeguard Great Barrier Reef (Catholic Earthcare Australia 5/8/04)

Qld Bishops call for renewed effort to safeguard Great Barrier Reef (Catholic Earthcare 5/8/04)
Catholic Earthcare Australia
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
Great Barrier Reef - Department of Environment and Heritage
Great Barrier Reef (UNESCO sites)

6 Aug 2004