BEAUTIFUL imagery of the Great Barrier Reef’s underwater wonderland will be screened in Rockhampton tonight, but for a very important reason.
The documentary – The Last Sea Treasure – focuses on dive instructor Julia Sumerling, who has been exploring the Coral Sea for 25 years.
Julia travels hundreds of kilometres east to Holmes Reef, Osprey Reef and Bougainville Reef, to share with us why these ocean wonders are in urgent need of our help.
“The waters we’re diving in don’t have much protection at all,” Julia says at the start of the documentary.
North Queensland business owners will also feature in the new documentary which looks into issues surrounding the health and future of the Coral Sea and will be a free screening at the Walter Reid Cultural Centre as part of a statewide tour.
Screenings are also taking place in Cairns, Airlie Beach and Maroochydore, and at multiple venues across Brisbane. Also starring in the documentary is legendary explorer Valerie Taylor, who first dived the Coral Sea four decades ago and who took a stand against mining in the region.
Ms Taylor took part in the documentary because she fears the Coral Sea now faces its greatest test.
“A new generation of caretakers has to now take a stand for the Coral Sea, because if it is not protected we all face losing its beauty and wonders forever,” she said.
The Last Sea Treasure was commissioned by the Australian Marine Conservation Society after it became clear that local businesses were increasingly concerned a Federal Government review of the Coral Sea Marine Reserve would expose key reefs to exploitation.
Fiona Maxwell from the Australian Marine Conservation Society said that more than 100 dive businesses from across the country have written to Environment Minister Greg Hunt urging him to reinstate a network of marine sanctuaries off the coast including the Coral Sea Sanctuary – the jewel in the network.
“Local businesses are concerned for the future of the Coral Sea if left unprotected,” she said.
“Around four out of every 10 scuba dives in Australia occur in Queensland, generating more than $1.8 billion to the Queensland economy. If Queensland, and particularly the Coral Sea, loses its reputation for pristine dive experiences we would see a decline in visitors and a negative economic impact in regional areas.
“Marine sanctuaries like those on the reef are essential infrastructure for our industry delivering world-class tourism opportunities. That’s what we’re seeking for the Coral Sea.”
The events are being co-hosted by Mike Ball Dive Expeditions, Biopixel, Dive Queensland, Australian Marine Conservation Society, the Save our Marine Life Alliance and a range of Queensland local businesses.
IF YOU GO
WHEN: Tonight from 6.30pm
WHERE: Walter Reid Cultural Centre, Cnr Derby St and East St, Rockhampton.