SETTING SAIL: Jorge Pujol and Vicki Perrin from the Wide Bay Burnett Lock the Gate Alliance as he prepares to set sail for Cairns.
SETTING SAIL: Jorge Pujol and Vicki Perrin from the Wide Bay Burnett Lock the Gate Alliance as he prepares to set sail for Cairns. Alistair Brightman

Bay sailor has a mission to protect region from fracking

JORGE Pujol wants his granddaughter to know he tried.

The Hervey Bay artist and environmental activist set sail on Tuesday for Cairns, on an awareness mission to protect the Great Sandy Strait and Fraser Coast from shale gas and fracking. In particular he holds concerns for the survival of marine life, including the largest dugong population on the east coast of Australia.

Mr Pujol and his yacht Vermont, emblazoned with banners bearing the message "don't frack the Fraser Coast”, were due to depart the Hervey Bay marina yesterday, with the first stop on the route Burrum Heads.

He has no set time frame for his journey, planning to travel about 40-50km each day and then berth safely for the night. He will take his message to the mainland on each of his stops along the way.

Mr Pujol's six-year-old granddaughter Charlotte and her generation were at the core of his decision to make the trip.

"In 10 to 15 years time the environment will be completely different to what it is today,” he said.

"I need to do this; even if I don't succeed (in making change) at least she will know I tried.

"I want her to know that I did everything I possibly could to protect this unique and precious environment, not just for her but for generations to come.”

Wide Bay Burnett Lock the Gate Alliance spokeswoman Vicki Perrin, who joined Mr Pujol and a band of supporters for his launch, said the organisation was asking all political parties to commit to the protection of the local environment.

"With an election coming up we want parties to know that shale gas and fracking will be a hot issue here,” she said.

"The Wide Bay Burnett region must be legislated a no-go zone for all forms of unconventional gas.”

You can follow Jorge's journey and the Don't Frack the Fraser Coast campaign with regular updates online on the Lock the Gate facebook page.



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