The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system located in the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland, Australia. In recent years, the Great Barrier Reef has endured massive bleaching as a result of climate change.
In June 2017, Ocean Elders sent a letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to urge him to stop the Adani coal mine which would stress the Reef further. In the letter, Ocean Elders stated that “Now is the time for decisive action. We urge you to stop the development of the Carmichael coal mine and support renewable energy projects that align with Australia’s ambitions and enhance broader global efforts to combat climate change.”
The Guardian published an article, Ocean Elders’ urge Malcolm Turnbull to reject Adani coalmine, which included parts of an interview with Dr. Sylvia Earle with RN Breakfast. In the interview, Dr. Earle commented on the link between the Carmichael coal mine and damage to the Great Barrier Reef was “not just speculation,” and said scientific monitoring of the reef showed an “unprecedented decline.”
Previously in April 2016, Ocean Elders wrote to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to urge him to take action on climate change and to protect the Great Barrier Reef. The letter stated “We hope it is not too late to save the Great Barrier Reef, but the window is closing fast. Of course, Australia alone cannot achieve this but your leadership is crucial. The moral decision to save the Great Barrier Reef rests in your hands.” In addition to the letter, Dr. Earle released a video message imploring the Prime Minister to use his power and influence to address climate change because the world was watching what was happening to the Great Barrier Reef.
Previously in September 2011, Ocean Elders wrote to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Rt. Hon. Tony Burke, the Minister of the Environment, to advocate for enhanced protection of the Coral Sea. Imogen Zethoven of Pew Charitable Trusts in Australia wrote “The Ocean Elders letter definitely took the campaign to a new level with our PM.” This letter was quoted in an article in the Melbourne Age the following month, followed by a full-page color advertisement by Ocean Elders in the Brisbane Courier Mail in May 2012; all in support of the Coral Sea being created as a large marine reserve. In June 2012, the government of Australia announced the creation of the world’s largest system of marine protected areas, including a massive fully protected no-take marine reserve in the Coral Sea.