The World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia said regulations to reduce polluted runoff, being debated in the Queensland Parliament today, were crucial to turn around the decline of the Great Barrier Reef.
Three scientific reports, released in July and August this year, show why the regulations are necessary.
The Australian Institute of Marine Science’s Long-Term Monitoring Program has been surveying the Reef for more than 30 years, and on 11 July AIMS reported “widespread coral declines on a spatial scale which is unparalleled in the history of LTMP surveys”.
On 30 August, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority released the 2019 Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report, which downgraded the outlook for the Reef from “poor” to “very poor”, and stated: “…Without additional local, national and global action on the greatest threats, the overall outlook for the Great Barrier Reef’s ecosystem will remain very poor, with continuing consequences for its heritage values also.”
“The scientific evidence is clear: initiatives that will halt and reverse the effects of climate change at a global level and effectively improve water quality at a regional scale are the most urgent to improve the Region’s long-term outlook.”
Reef Report Card
Also on 30 August, the annual Reef Report Card produced by the Federal and Queensland governments was released and gave the inshore Reef a score of ‘D’ for overall condition.
The score is based on the state of coral, seagrass and water quality. For seven out of the last eight reports the Reef has scored a D.
Sugar Cane scored an E with on average 9.8% of sugarcane land managed using best practice systems.
Grazing scored a D with on average 35.8% of grazing land managed using best practice systems.
WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman said action on water quality was a key commitment given to the World Heritage Committee and one of the reasons the Reef wasn’t listed ‘in-danger’.
“The regulations are an important measure for farmers in Reef catchments to transition in a market which is increasingly demanding greater evidence of sustainability.
“WWF calls for all MPs to recognise the overwhelming scientific consensus about the impacts of poor water quality on the health of the Reef.
“The Reef is resilient and can bounce back but it needs our help. Today is a decisive step towards giving the Reef the clean water it needs to thrive,” Mr O’Gorman said.