Cherry’s reef fight in Bonn
AIRLIE Beach resident Cherry Muddle is so determined to fight for stronger protection of the Great Barrier Reef, she's intending to take the message to UNESCO's World Heritage Committee herself.
On Saturday, Ms Muddle will leave the place she calls home and fly to Germany where the World Heritage Committee is meeting on June 29 to finally vote on whether the reef will be labelled "endangered" or kept on a watch list for the next two years.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society campaigner says she will speak from the heart about the beauty of the reef and how passionately the local community supports its protection.
"Our great natural wonder is under threat from massive port expansion, from farm run-off and from global warming," she said.
"We need the help of the World Heritage Committee and the eyes of the world to ensure that the Australian government rejects further port expansion, invests in action to reduce run-off from farms and does far more to curb global warming.
"We can save the reef if we take fast and effective action but our government is not doing enough."
Ms Muddle says she wants to share stories from the Whitsunday community's passionate two-year fight to protect the reef. "We've faced many challenges, held colourful actions, built powerful alliances, had Australian icons standing with us and had strong tourism voices standing up for our reef. And together, we've achieved some increased protection for our reef, which is the lifeblood of the Whitsundays," she said.
"But there is still a long way to go. We are privileged that if the right decisions are made now, we can keep the reef safe forever - but our political leaders must take real action now.
Ms Muddle's love for the ocean stems from a childhood of exploring the Australian seashore, islands, and fringing reefs.
She describes her first scuba dive in the Whitsundays like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, immersed in an ethereal world of colour, beauty, and enchantment.
After graduating from a Bachelor of Tourism Management and Environmental Science at Southern Cross University, she completed an internship at the Ningaloo Reef.
Her passion for the ocean has led her on many adventures including kayaking around the Whitsunday islands, working on yachts from the Mediterranean to the South China Sea, surfing in South America, diving with grey nurse sharks at Fish Rock Cave, and free diving through Cenotes in Mexico.
She has also worked on a sailing boat in the Whitsundays, where she studied coral reefs and passionately educated guests on marine conservation.
Ms Muddle believes the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee should agree with the draft decision to keep the reef under watch for the next two years and at the end of that time assess whether the promises of the Australian Government's Reef 2050 Plan are being kept. She has added her signature to the half-million strong "draw the line" petition to be presented to the WHC in Bonn.