Nat Bromhead –
The Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, is embroiled in a brutal custody battle.
Gloving up in one corner are the resource giants, billion-dollar corporations who employ thousands and insist upon their solid stewardship of the living treasure.
Opposing them are grassroots green groups, adamant the reef’s survival is in the balance.
The referee is a team of UNESCO delegates, who fly into Mackay today to continue their investigation into the state of the reef.
The “reactive monitoring mission” comes after the organisation expressed concerns over the environmental impact of coal and gas ports.
At risk is the reef’s World Heritage listing, with green groups worried it may be re-classified as “in danger”.
Patricia Julian, of the Mackay Conservation Group, said a change in status would be “a national embarrassment”.
“The concern is it could be put on the danger list as a high-watch zone,” she said. Conservation groups will gather at Louisa Creek this morning in a show of support.
The Greens candidate for Mirani Christine Carlisle said the group would be erecting protest signs that could be seen from the air as the UNESCO delegates flew over the area.