Great Barrier Reef reports

Two recent reports on the health of the Great Barrier Reef have outlined the pressure it is under due to climate change and other anthropogenic influences.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s five-yearly outlook report found that the reef’s overall health is poor, and getting worse.

But federal environment minister Greg Hunt said he is confident the reef will not lose its

The federal and Queensland governments’ strategic assessment outlines how the reef can be better looked after in response to a United Nations request for improved management. The reef’s World Heritage Listing comes up for review next year and there are fears that it will be placed on the list of World Heritage in danger.


Listen to a brief interview I gave for 2SER on these reports here for :


I also provided a response as part of a panel of experts for The Conversation. They only allowed us 200 words, so I thought I would add a few extra thoughts here (evidently nobody on the panel’s expertise extended to counting words):

* The Belize Barrier Reef has been on the list of World Heritage sites in danger since 2009 due to excessive development and mangrove removal, with no discernible impact on reef-associated tourism. The concern that putting the GBR on this list will damage the tourism industry is therefore questionable.

* Some basic principles seem to have been forgotten among the discussions on how to dispose of dredge spoil from port development.  What about the precautionary principle (Environmental Science 101: If you don’t know what the consequences of a given action will be, don’t do it)? Instead of working out an alternative plan for dredging, why don’t we solve the problem by working out how to keep coal in the ground, while meeting our own power needs?

* Geomorphology, geomorphology, geomorphology. Such a fundamental aspect of the health of reef systems that consistently gets forgotten about. Will the structural integrity of reef platforms be maintained? What are the implications for the longer term survival of reef systems, i.e. until the next interglacial? How will the production of carbonate sediments (on which those precious white beaches rely) be impacted?

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