Australia's Scientists Say Current Protections For The Great Barrier Reef Aren't Good Enough

Getty/ Mark Kolbe

Australia’s Academy of Science says current protection plans for the Great Barrier Reef won’t prevent its decline.

In its submission to the Australian and Queensland governments’ Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, the academy warns the draft plan fails to effectively address the key pressures including climate change, poor water quality, coastal development and fishing.

The plan also does not address the fundamental governance issues for the reef, including conflict of interest issues and a lack of oversight.

Terry Hughes, an Academy Fellow, says bold action is required.

“The science is clear, the reef is degraded and its condition is worsening,” Professor Hughes says.

“This is a plan that won’t restore the reef, it won’t even maintain it in its already diminished state.

“It is also more than disappointing to see that the biggest threat to the reef – climate change – is virtually ignored in this plan.”

He says the future of this national treasure, which generates $5 billion a year for the Australian economy, depends on less pollution from runoff and dredging, less carbon emissions from fossil fuels and less fishing pressure.

“The plan also seems overly focused on the short-term task of addressing UNESCO’s concerns about the reef’s World Heritage Listing, rather than the longer-term challenges of restoring the values of the Reef,” Professor Hughes says.

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