CONSERVATION KEY: Karl French, pictured with marine debris collected over three months in the Gladstone Harbour, has been nominated as chair of Gladstone's Local Marine Advisory Committee.
CONSERVATION KEY: Karl French, pictured with marine debris collected over three months in the Gladstone Harbour, has been nominated as chair of Gladstone's Local Marine Advisory Committee. Mike Richards GLA050918REEF

Experienced conservationist named as chair of marine group

KARL French considers himself a "lucky" conservationist, despite spending part of yesterday sifting through a tray of cigarette butts that washed up in Gladstone Harbour.

The waste collected over three months in a trap near the Gladstone Yacht Club has only further inspired him to educate others about how to keep our marine ecosystems healthy.

The avid volunteer and experienced marine researcher was this week appointed the Local Marine Advisory Committee chair for three years.

Among his goals are to get more youth involved in the volunteer-run committee and to raise awareness about the health of the reefs on Gladstone's doorstep.

Mr French, who completed a masters in environmental management in 2013, has dedicated his life to marine conservation by volunteering and completing research projects.

"From my studies I know we're losing coral cover, but there are areas of great resilience," he said.

"I've had the opportunity to travel and to go to reefs in other areas of the world, and our reef is, in part, in good condition, but we can't be complacent."

"We've had two bleaching events and outbreaks of crown of thorns starfish ... unless we manage the reef right we will lose it."

The Gladstone Local Marine Advisory Committee is one of 12 run by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

It aims to provide feedback to marine managers on reef management policies and marine resources.

The committee is inviting residents to a public presentation on the CSIRO's Recovery of Reef Using Industrial Techniques from 6-6.30pm on Wednesday at the Gladstone Volunteer Marine Rescue building Alf O'Rourke Drive.

The presentation will give Gladstone residents a first-hand look at the reef restoration project, which examines alternative ways of collecting and distributing coral spawn to increase coral settlement.

There's more information on www.gbrmpa.gov.au

"The Gladstone region has an interesting mix of industry and environment ... our region is also right on the doorstep of ecologically significant sites such as the Capricorn Bunker group of islands and reefs."


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