Councillor Jeff Baines of the Cassowary Coast Regional Council has been elected as the first chair of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Reef Guardian Council executive committee.
The Authority’s Reef Guardian Councils program is a local government alliance of 19 councils committed to reducing impacts on the Great Barrier Reef through collaboration, education and action.
Cr Baines said it was an honour to be elected chair of the committee, and pledged to promote the role of local councils and their communities in protecting the Great Barrier Reef.
“The Great Barrier Reef is not just our very beautiful front yard — it is the economic, cultural, and social fabric of our communities,” Cr Baines said.
“When we look after the Reef, we are looking after ourselves.”
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority CEO Josh Thomas said local governments had a very important leadership role to play in tackling some of the major threats to the Reef.
“Reef Guardian Councils also inspire and support their communities to look after the Reef,” he said.
“The Authority deeply values our partnership with these councils.”
Cr Baines said the key challenges over the next four years of his term would be to raise the profile of the actions local communities are taking to help the Reef.
“This newly created role will give Reef Guardian Councils a voice, and we want the world to know that our communities care about the
Great Barrier Reef and we are ready to step up and do our bit,” Cr Baines said.
“This is where the rubber hits the road and I encourage everyone everywhere to be a Reef Guardian and do their little bit to help protect the Reef.”
There are 19 councils involved in the program, covering over 300,000 hectares of the Reef catchment and almost a million people.
Cr Baines is also chair of the Cassowary Coast Local Marine Advisory Committee, one of 12 voluntary community-based committees that advise the Authority on local marine issues.