Scientists tell Australia to save Great Barrier Reef

Jun 05, 2013
An Australian Institute of Marine Science photo from October 2, 2012 shows bleaching on coral in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Leading marine scientists warned the Australian government on Wednesday of the growing threat to the Great Barrier Reef from unchecked industrial development.

Leading marine scientists warned the Australian government on Wednesday of the growing threat to the Great Barrier Reef from unchecked industrial development.

More than 150 scientists from 33 institutions signed a statement saying that the mining and gas boom along the Queensland state coast was hastening the decline of the World Heritage area.

The UN's educational, scientific and cultural body meets later this month to discuss proposals to list the giant reef as a site "in danger".

A UNESCO report in March found 43 development proposals in the vicinity of the huge reef were under assessment and that the federal and state governments had failed to improve water quality in the area.

In the declaration, the scientists voiced concern about "the additional pressures that will be exerted by expansion of coastal ports and industrial development accompanied by a projected near-doubling in shipping, major coastal reclamation works, large-scale seabed dredging and dredge spoil disposal all either immediately adjacent to, or within the World Heritage Area".

"We are calling on the Queensland and Australian governments to ensure that the outstanding universal value ... of the ... property is protected."

Graphic on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The UN's educational, scientific and cultural body meets later this month to discuss proposals to list the giant reef as a site "in danger".

Hugh Possingham said that over the last 27 years half of the reef's coral has been degraded.

"This is just going to accelerate that, so we should really be doing the reverse," he told state broadcaster ABC.

"This just feels like a further insult, particularly the dredge and the sediments that are going to be dug up in making these ports."

Such development was "likely to be the straw that breaks the camel's back," he added.

Other signatories of the statement include scientists from the University of Hawaii, Australia's James Cook University, University of Melbourne and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

Ports on the Barrier Reef coast currently export 156 million tonnes of coal per annum (mtpa) and there are plans to expand that to 953 mtpa within the next decade. By 2020 an estimated 7,000 ships will traverse the reef every year, up from 5,000 in 2010.

Explore further: EPA staff says agency needs to be tough on smog

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Campaign to save Barrier Reef from industry

Apr 28, 2013

Conservationists accused Australia of failing to protect the Great Barrier Reef from massive industrial development as they launched a multi-million dollar campaign to drum up awareness.

Great Barrier Reef heading for danger: UNESCO

Jun 02, 2012

UNESCO on Saturday urged decisive action from Australia to protect the Great Barrier Reef from a gas and mining boom, warning it risked being put on its list of world heritage sites deemed "in danger".

Australia failing UNESCO demands on Barrier Reef

Feb 01, 2013

Australia insisted Friday that protecting the Great Barrier Reef was a top priority, but conservationists WWF said not enough had been done to prevent UNESCO deeming it a world heritage site "in danger".

US Navy ship removed from Philippine reef

Mar 30, 2013

Salvage teams on Saturday removed the last piece of a US Navy ship that was stuck on a UNESCO World Heritage-listed coral reef in the Philippines for more than 10 weeks, the coast guard said.

Recommended for you

Shell files new plan to drill in Arctic

Aug 29, 2014

Royal Dutch Shell has submitted a new plan for drilling in the Arctic offshore Alaska, more than one year after halting its program following several embarrassing mishaps.

Reducing water scarcity possible by 2050

Aug 29, 2014

Water scarcity is not a problem just for the developing world. In California, legislators are currently proposing a $7.5 billion emergency water plan to their voters; and U.S. federal officials last year ...

User comments : 0