Shallow bleaching corals split level © Jürgen Freund / WWF

Shallow bleaching corals split level © Jürgen Freund / WWF

Australian Government risks Reef’s World Heritage status without major new commitments

09 Mar 2015

Keywords
  • marine pollution
  • climate change
  • crown of thorns starfish
  • great barrier reef
  • world heritage

In a report released today, WWF and the Australian Marine Conservation Society have found many of the Word Heritage Committee’s concerns for the Great Barrier Reef are still not being properly addressed.
 
The report – Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area – Concerns and Solutions - has been submitted to UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and recommends the Australian Federal Government take the following action before the World Heritage Committee meets this June:

 

  • Commit to a major investment of at least $500 million to stop farm pollution harming the Reef
  • Ban all industrial scale dumping of dredge spoil in the Reef’s World Heritage waters.
  • Make the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority a ‘champion of the Reef’ by increasing its resourcing and strengthening its role in protecting key coastal ecosystems.

 

“The Australian Federal Government needs to lift its game when it comes to protecting the Reef. Without major new commitments the Reef’s World Heritage status is at risk,” said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman.
 
“Water pollution from farms causes outbreaks of crown of thorns starfish which can consume an entire reef in a matter of weeks. Sediment washed from the land smothers coral and seagrass.
 
“Recent reductions in pollution claimed by the government are nowhere near the required amount. A commitment of at least $500 million from the Australian Federal Government in extra funds over the next five years is needed to urgently address this problem,” Mr O’Gorman said.
 
Last year, the World Heritage Committee expressed concern about the practice of dumping millions of tonnes of dredge spoil in the Reef’s waters.
 
“Last November the Australian Federal Government announced a plan to ban dumping in the Marine Park but we are still waiting to see how this will be implemented,” said AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director Felicity Wishart.
 
“The Australian Federal Government must work with the newly elected Queensland State Government to implement the dumping ban in the whole World Heritage Area. Most sea dumping already occurs just outside the Marine Park where dredge plumes can drift onto coral. Only a ban in the whole World Heritage Area will protect the Reef. 
 
“It’s a startling fact that since the Reef was declared a World Heritage Site, over 50% of its coral cover has disappeared. And scientists forecast this decline to continue.
 
“Clearly the current management arrangements are failing which is why the role of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority must be reconsidered.
 
“The Australian Federal Government must enable GBRMPA to become a ‘champion of the Reef’ by increasing its resourcing, strengthening its enforcement capacity and expanding its role in protecting key coastal ecosystems,” Ms Wishart said.

WWF-Australia Media Contact: 
Mark Symons, Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571

 

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