LOCAL environmental enthusiasts will contribute to statewide attempts to swim the length of the Great Barrier Reef.
Swim for the Reef, a fundraising initiative of community legal centre Environmental Defenders Office, runs from January 14 to February 10, with various events held across Queensland.
Swimmers will take to the YMCA Victoria Point pool on January 19 in an effort to help Queenslanders swim a collective 2,300 kilometres, the length of the reef.
Local team the Wello Pointers, who have taken part in the event since its inception in 2016, will swim 1.1 kilometres between the Wellington Point reserve and King Island.
Since 2016, swimmers across the state have swum a total of 1,011 kilometres, which is the equivalent of more than 20,000 laps of an Olympic-sized pool.
EDO Queensland chief executive officer and solicitor Jo-Anne Bragg said nearly $70,000 was raised during last year’s event and went towards the organisation’s work to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
“Each year the funds raised from Swim for the Reef go directly towards EDO Queensland’s work protecting the Great Barrier Reef from threats like climate change, deforestation, and agricultural runoff,” Ms Bragg said.
“Funds from previous years have been spent legally representing community groups in court on landmark climate change and reef protection cases, fighting for strong vegetation protection along waterways in Reef catchments and speaking up for reef protection in legal submissions to parliament.”
Wello Pointers member Trevor Berrill said the team had first become involved three years ago out of concern for the health of the Great Barrier Reef and reefs around Moreton Bay, including an ancient coral reef off King Island.
“We have to act on climate change, stop using coal and switch to renewable energy,” Mr Berrill said.
“Several marine biologists I know are concerned the message is not getting through to the government.”
At least a dozen swimmers, kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders were expected to take part in Swim for the Reef at Wellington Point, Mr Berrill said, with the Wello Pointers hoping to raise $2000 for EDO Queensland.
Ms Bragg said nearly 20 teams had signed up for the event so far, and there was still time for people to register.
She added that the organisation aimed to top last year’s fundraising effort.
“Last year’s event was a huge success, with events as far afield as Germany and Vietnam,” she said.
“More than 267 swimmers participated across 34 locations.
“This year we hope to raise even more.”
Swimmers will hit the YMCA pool from 10am to 12pm on January 19, while Wello Pointers planned to complete their swim on February 2 from 8:30am.
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