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Bleached coral on Lizard Island, QLD, in February 2016 © WWF-Aus / Alexander Vail

Bleached coral on Lizard Island, QLD, in February 2016 © WWF-Aus / Alexander Vail

Scientists call for international pressure to help save the Reef

07 Apr 2015

Keywords
  • marine pollution
  • climate change
  • great barrier reef
  • world heritage

WWF-Australia today welcomed an opinion piece by three of Australia’s leading coral scientists who criticise the Reef 2050 plan and call on Australians and the international community to pressure the Australian government to do a better job protecting the Reef.

The article, by scientists Professor Terry Hughes, Jon Day and Jon Brodie, is published in Nature Climate Change and comes on the eve of a crucial UNESCO report on the Reef.

UNESCO is due to release a draft decision next month on whether the Reef should be declared ‘World Heritage in danger’ before a final decision by the Word Heritage Committee at its annual meeting from 28 June to 8 July 2015.

The three scientists write that unsustainable fishing, agricultural runoff, coastal development, rapid climate change and a burgeoning fossil fuel industry have caused the deterioration of 25 out of the 42 values that collectively comprise the World Heritage values of the Reef.

They warn that the final Reef 2050 plan “remains short-sighted” and “… its underlying economic objective is the creation of the world’s largest coal and coal seam gas export industry”.

They state: “The future of the GBR depends on the Australian and Queensland governments taking their responsibilities more seriously”.

The scientists issue this call to action: “The Australian public and the global community need to make it clear that they want policy actions to ensure the outstanding universal value of the Great Barrier Reef is restored for future generations”.

The scientists acknowledge some progress has been made but say it does not go far enough.

Their strategy to restore the Reef includes permanent legislative bans on dumping both capital and maintenance dredge spoil within the World Heritage Area, stronger action on climate change, more power to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and a 50-year plan with adequate funding to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and agricultural run off.

“This opinion piece is science based and points out that with the right decisions we can turn around the decline of the Reef,” said WWF-Australia Reef campaigner Louise Matthiesson.

“The solutions put forward by these eminent scientists mirror WWF’s blueprint to restore the Reef and we support their plan.

“WWF supporters around the world are taking action for the Reef through the Draw the Line campaign – WWF's global campaign for the Reef.

“Already, more than 130,000 people have signed the petition to Stop industrial destruction of the Great Barrier Reef and protect World Heritage under threat,” she said.

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

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