Coral bleaching is the result of global warming caused by the mining and burning of fossil fuels like coal. Global warming is heating our oceans, and if the water stays too hot for too long, corals bleach and die.
Farm pollution is one of the key drivers of the Reef’s decline. It smothers corals and seagrass beds and denies them sunlight, drives crown of thorn starfish outbreaks, and makes coral more vulnerable to bleaching. Nitrogen run-off from farms can also lead to algal blooms, which starfish larvae feed on, promoting population explosions.
Sadly, the scale and number of problems the Reef now faces have outgrown the capacity of the institutions and systems put in place a generation ago to protect it. The Reef needs a stronger champion to defend it from industrialisation, overfishing and a multitude of other threats.
There are plans to expand several ports along the Great Barrier Reef coastline. Port expansion leads to dredging of the seafloor, increased shipping traffic, and a range of other impacts on the delicate coastal and marine environment of this World Heritage Area.
Poor management of commercial, recreational and Indigenous fishing is increasing the threats to many of Queensland’s threatened species including dugongs, turtles and inshore dolphins. Fisheries management needs to be supported by investment into expanded data collection and compliance programs.