Central Queensland's reputation as a top 10 global destination for marine research will be hard to maintain without further government investment to support research and monitoring of the Southern Great Barrier Reef.
That's the stark warning from several Gladstone industries and organisations' on the back of a recent announcement that CQUniversity was ranked 10th best university in the world for protecting and restoring 'life below water' in the prestigious Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings.
CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor and President' Professor Nick Klomp said $15m in Commonwealth investment was needed to ensure completion of CQU's Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Research Centre (CMERC).
'CQUniversity invested $6.6m of its own funds in 2019 to get CMERC underway and look what we've achieved in just three years'' Professor Klomp said.
'With additional government support' we can absolutely lead the world in many aspects of marine research.
'The recent THE results confirm what we've long known – that Central Queensland is a leading global destination for marine research.
'Not only is CQU one of only two Australian universities in the global top 10' it is the only Queensland university in this bracket. That's a massive feather in the cap of the Gladstone and Central Queensland region' but it also highlights just how critical marine conservation is to the future health of the Southern Great Barrier Reef.
'We cannot afford to throw away this opportunity to lead the world in activities like seagrass restoration' mud crab aquaculture' partnership with heavy industry' and caring for sea country alongside traditional owners.
'With this investment' the Commonwealth Government will ensure Gladstone remains a preeminent destination worldwide for these activities and more' for many years to come.'
In January this year' Federal Labor committed $15m to the completion of the CMERC facility' however CQUniversity is pushing the Coalition to match this commitment ahead of the upcoming election to ensure the project goes ahead.
Australia Pacific LNG Community Relations Manager' Mr Rob Gibb' said Central Queensland's top 10 status was 'huge' for the region and recognises the importance of CMERC's continued operations.
'Gladstone is unique in the world for its mix of heavy industry' agriculture' and World Heritage-listed reef in the one location'' Mr Gibb said.
'Facilities like CMERC are critical to maintaining our local marine ecosystem and promoting sustainable co-existence of industry and the environment.'
Gladstone Ports Corporation (GPC) CEO' Mr Craig Haymes said with GPC and CQU sharing a geographical footprint in Rockhampton' Bundaberg and Gladstone' it couldn't have made more sense than to combine expertise.
'Having a local research organisation with the knowledge and capabilities to support sustainable port operations is a win-win for industry' community and the environment'' Mr Haymes said.
'Living in not only one of the most beautiful locations on the coast but also home to Australia's premiere multi-commodity port' it's important to us here at GPC as community members ourselves to ensure we are doing everything we can to address any challenges facing our environment.
'We are proud of our ongoing partnership with CMERC and look forward to seeing their work come to fruition.'
Gidarjil Development Corporation Ltd CEO' Dr Kerry Blackman' also joined the chorus of calls for a bipartisan approach to protecting sea country whilst supporting economic development in the region.
'With the ALP already committed to funding completion of CMERC' I now call on the LNP to match this $15m funding commitment. This will ensure we continue to lead the world in this critical area of research and conservation' to secure the sustainability of our sea country'' Dr Blackman said.