Australia: WWF Questions Government’s Great Barrier Reef Plans

WWF Questions Government’s Great Barrier Reef Plans

WWF today challenged the Australian Government’s view that the Great Barrier Reef is being sustainably managed, citing publications showing that coral had declined by up to 50 per cent.

As UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee prepares to visit Queensland next month, after expressing “extreme concern” at port development and dredging impacts in the World Heritage area, the Australian Government submission to UNESCO claims the Reef was being sustainably managed.

But a recent article, published in the scientific journal Coral Reefs last year, found coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef had declined by up to 50 per cent since the 1960s*. The article cited monitoring that showed coral declines had continued in recent times, decreasing by around a quarter since the Great Barrier Reef was declared a World Heritage site in 1981.

The Government’s conclusion is simply not supported by the science,” leader of WWF’s Great Barrier Reef program Nick Heath said.

The Government’s report fails to acknowledge growing evidence that the Great Barrier Reef is in danger, including its own 2009 Outlook Report that warned of ‘catastrophic’ damage.”

Coral cover has been slashed in half over the past 50 years, over a thousand starving turtles have washed up on Queensland beaches over the past year, rare marine species continue to be killed in fishing nets, and the State Government has been unable to explain high levels of disease in marine life around Gladstone, nor rule out industrial development as the cause.

It’s hard to see how the Australian Government can claim in its report that the Great Barrier Reef will be passed on to future generations ‘retaining the values for which it was declared a World Heritage Area’,” Mr Heath said.

The government submission, State Party Report on the State of Conservation of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, also said LNG development and dredging at Gladstone were thoroughly assessed and had not ‘compromised’ the Reef’s World Heritage Values.

The UNESCO visit in March will put the spotlight squarely on the management of the Great Barrier Reef, and WWF is urging all levels of government to step up and commit to tougher policies on pollution and damaging fishing practices or risk the continuing demise of the World Heritage asset.

To better protect the Great Barrier Reef, WWF wants the next Queensland Government to:

– Cut Reef pollution through greater investment in farm innovation;

– Protect fish stocks, turtles and dugongs by taking fishing nets out of sensitive habitats;

– Save turtles and dugongs from illegal poaching with more Indigenous rangers;

– Establish a new ‘Reef Bank’ to invest money from the mining boom into Reef resilience programs.

Dredging Today Staff, February 23, 2012; Image: westernbasinportdevelopment

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3rd International Congress Hydraulic Engineering Structures and Dredging

Russia’s leading maritime industry Media Group PortNews (www.portnews.ru) holds a traditional annual Congress “Hydraulic Engineering Structures and Dredging” in Moscow. 

The two-day Congress includes the 7th International Forum of Dredging Companies and the 3rd Technical Conference “Modern Solutions for Hydraulic Engineering”.

Infrastructure development is among the real sources of Russia’s economy growth. Construction of port facilities and new hydraulic engineering structures on the country’s inland waterways constitute an essential part of all infrastructure projects. It is important to take into account the best international practices to implement these projects effectively.

The program of the Congress will be devoted to the latest technologies for dredging and hydraulic engineering works. Speakers and delegates will refer to real projects to discuss specifics features of dredging works, as well as dedicated fleet and equipment involved.

To learn more about event, please, contact the organizing committee: snitko@portnews.ru

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