AMCS-­WWF join forces to fight for the Reef



[news_posted_on] 23 January 2013  | 
The Great Barrier Reef is in crisis and without decisive action by the Federal government and Queensland State government Australia could be placed on UNESCO’s ‘list of shame’ for not meeting its World Heritage obligations.

The situation is so serious that WWF-Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society today announced they were combining to launch a new campaign: Fight for the Reef.

The community-based, national campaign will seek to raise awareness about the deteriorating state of the reef and to pressure all political leaders to use the opportunity of an election year to make firm commitments to help prevent further damage.

The Reef was granted World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1981 and is regarded as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

In a report last October, the Federal government’s own scientific advisers, the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) reported significant loss of coral cover over the last 27 years and that this trend could continue unless current conditions improve.  www.aims.gov.au

UNESCO, in a scathing report about the state of the reef, warned Australia that in the World Heritage Committee’s next meeting in June this year, they would consider categorising the reef as “in-danger” – the World Heritage ‘list of shame’ - unless there was decisive action.

AMCS GBR Campaign Director Felicity Wishart said today, “Australia’s most important environmental asset was under serious threat from existing and proposed industrialisation along the Queensland coast. The Reef is worth $6 billion annually to the local economy.”
“Building of new ports, expanding existing ones, dredging the breeding and feeding grounds of marine wildlife, dumping the dredge spoil in the World Heritage Area, and significantly increasing the number of ships is happening now, and there are proposals for even further development,” Ms Wishart said.

WWF’s Reef Director Nick Heath said the Reef was in crisis from cumulative impacts. “Industrialisation aside, the AIMS report concluded that improving water quality by reducing nutrient rich agricultural run-off was vital to reducing the spread of Crown of Thorns Starfish and the future health of the reef,” Mr Heath said.
“But that was six months ago. There’s been no funding commitment from the Federal Government since and that’s not good enough.”

WWF and AMCS today wrote to the leaders of all major political parties, challenging them to commit to major improvements in Reef protection and alerting them to the Fight for the Reef campaign.

The letter issued ten challenges to Australia’s political leaders in line with the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee.

WWF and AMCS today wrote to the leaders of all major political parties, asking they commit to major improvements in Reef protection and alerting them to the launch of the Fight for the Reef campaign
The conservation groups issued ten challenges to Australia’s political leaders in line with the recommendations of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee and have asked the leaders to respond with their position to these specific requests:

1. Commit at least $500 million over the next 4 years towards programs to reversing the decline in
water quality in the Reef.

2. Stop any future construction of new ports and support a review of existing port boundaries to
exclude areas of importance to protecting the Reef’s integrity.

3. Protect sensitive and undeveloped areas of the Reef’s coastline including the Fitzroy River delta
and Cape York through strict planning regimes.

4. Stop dredging and dumping on the Reef’s seabed, the feeding and breeding ground of sensitive
species.

5. Manage existing ports like Gladstone to World Heritage standards and conduct independent
reviews.

6. Limit ship numbers and anchorages, require all ballast water to be treated and ensure all ships
employ Australian-registered pilots to prevent collisions and groundings.

7. Make all ships and ship lanes safer to prevent accidents.

8. Commit to retaining Federal approval powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity
Conservation Act for Matters of National Environmental Significance.

9. Commit significant funds to repair the Reef and its critical coastal ecosystem so that conservation
targets are met that reflect the Reef’s former condition when listed as World Heritage in 1981.

10. Complete a strategic assessment and a sustainable development plan by 2015 that delivers
effective planning laws to safeguard the future of the Reef.

Media contacts:
AMCS: Jane Garcia, EMC, 0434 489 533, jane.garcia@essentialmedia.com.au
WWF-Australia: Sarah Best, Senior Media Officer, 0421 897 087, sbest@wwf.org.au
Pandanus trees on coast in Cape Hillsborough National Park, which is situated on the Whitsunday Coast, and is characterised by fabulous rocky headlands and formations, formed by early volcanic behaviour. The waters surrounding the National Park are part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Along the coast are beautiful rocky coves, secluded sandy beaches and fantastic scenery. Pacific Ocean, Queensland. Australia.
Pandanus trees on coast in Cape Hillsborough National Park, which is situated on the Whitsunday Coast. The waters surrounding the National Park are part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Pacific Ocean, Queensland. Australia.
© Michèle Dépraz / WWF-Canon Enlarge

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