64,000 Australia jobs depend on the health of the Great Barrier Reef, contributing $6.4 billion to the Australian economy.
But despite both the economic and obvious environmental benefits to keeping it in tip-top shape, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s second World Heritage Outlook report confirmed the Reef is at a “very high level of threat” from climate change and there is “real concern” that its condition is deteriorating.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature is an international, non-governmental organisation that provides advice to the World Heritage Committee on natural heritage properties. It looks at the current state and trend of values, the threats affecting those values and the effectiveness of protection and management.
The report uses four categories: Good; Good with Some Concern; Significant Concern and Critical.
In 2014, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority found that the state of the Great Barrier Reef was poor, that it had worsened in the last five years and that it was expected to deteriorate further.
Its recent report found that the 2016 and 2017 coral bleaching events have been unprecedented in severity and impacts. It found Cyclone Debbie was the tenth severe cyclone to hit the Reef since 2005. It expressed “critical” concern for corals, reef fish and seabirds.
Other threats such as poor water quality from catchment runoff, impacts from coastal development, illegal and unsustainable fishing and crown-of-thorns starfish also continue to be major threats to the long-term conservation of the property.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society says time is critical if we are to save our Reef.
“The future survival of the Great Barrier Reef depends on a rapid switch from polluting coal to clean renewable energy”, said Fight For Our Reef Campaign Director Imogen Zethoven. “The report is a wake up call for all Australian politicians. Immediate action is required before it’s too late for our global icon.”
Zethoven points to the upcoming Queensland election as “a real test” on whether our leaders are willing to listen to voters’ concerns on climate change, and act to save our precious Reef.
“The overwhelming majority of Australians are appalled that $1 billion dollars in taxpayer money could be used to give a leg up to a harmful coal mine. AMCS welcomed the Premier’s election promise to veto the Adani loan last week, but now all eyes are on Queensland LNP leader Tim Nicholls to do the same.”
Zethoven says for the sake of the thousands of livelihoods and families who rely on the Reef, we have to rule out Adani’s “monstrous” coal mine.
“But we can’t stop there. Tim Nicholls must reverse his support for a new coal fired power station and deliver at least 5 per cent renewable energy by 2030.”