Stop eating meat to save the reef

Desmond Bellamy, special projects coordinator, PETA Australia, Byron Bay 

The Great Barrier Reef, described by David Attenborough as one of the ‘greatest wonders’ on earth, is in grave danger. The latest government ‘report card’ on the reef gives it a D (poor) for the fifth year in a row, and an ecosystem-wide grade of E (very poor). The report names climate change as ‘the most serious threat’ and the warming and acidification of the oceans is widely acknowledged as the cause of the massive coral bleaching last summer.

We know that animal agriculture is responsible for a large proportion of greenhouse gas emission, up to 51 per cent according to Worldwatch. What is not so well known is the more localised damage done by farming of animals for meat in the reef catchment area.

The Department of Primary Industries estimates that there are four to five million cattle grazing in the reef catchment area, which results in extensive land clearing, widespread soil erosion, and the flow of eroded material, with associated nutrients, into the World Heritage Area.

Grazing of cattle for beef is, according to the Marine Park Authority, ‘the largest single land use on the catchment’.

Saving the reef, and combating climate change globally, demand urgent answers. Solutions which involve reducing fossil fuels require decades of preparation and billions of dollars. Yet the most effective way to stop climate change and save the reef is available to every one of us three times daily: just leave meat off our plates.



One response to “Stop eating meat to save the reef”

  1. Geoffrey says:

    Desmond, human beings have had meat as part of their diet for 2 million years. The reason you are here, able to write your letter and read my comment, is because your ancestors survived and thrived for all that time, partly because they ate meat. Think about it! Most of the people on the planet eat some form and amount of meat and they are not about to give it up. How about promoting wise, organic, farming and agriculture, and cruelty free, compassionate animal raising, which is much more likely to succeed in ending the problems associated with pollution from “conventional” agriculture.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Become a supporter of The Echo

A note from the editorial team

Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

The Echo has never underestimated the intelligence and passion of its readers. In a world of corporate banality and predictability, The Echo has worked hard for more than 30 years to help keep Byron and the north coast unique with quality local journalism and creative ideas. We think this area needs more voices, reasoned analysis and ideas than just those provided by News Corp, lifestyle mags, Facebook groups and corporate newsletters.

The Echo is one hundred per cent locally owned and one hundred per cent independent. As you have probably gathered from what is happening in the media industry, it is not cheap to produce a weekly newspaper and a daily online news service of any quality.

We have always relied entirely on advertising to fund our operations, but often loyal readers who value our local, independent journalism have asked how they could help ensure our survival.

Any support you can provide to The Echo will make an enormous difference. You can make a one-off contribution or a monthly one. With your help, we can continue to support a better informed local community and a healthier democracy for another 30 years.”

Echonetdaily is made possible by the support of all of our advertisers.