AMCS-WWF Join Forces for Great Barrier Reef (Australia)

AMCS WWF Join Forces for Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is in crisis and without decisive action by the Federal government and Queensland State government Australia could be placed on UNESCO’s ‘list of shame’ for not meeting its World Heritage obligations.

The situation is so serious that WWF-Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society today announced they were combining to launch a new campaign: Fight for the Reef.

The community-based, national campaign will seek to raise awareness about the deteriorating state of the reef and to pressure all political leaders to use the opportunity of an election year to make firm commitments to help prevent further damage.

The Reef was granted World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1981 and is regarded as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

In a report last October, the Federal government’s own scientific advisers, the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) reported significant loss of coral cover over the last 27 years and that this trend could continue unless current conditions improve.

UNESCO, in a scathing report about the state of the reef, warned Australia that in the World Heritage Committee’s next meeting in June this year, they would consider categorising the reef as “in-danger” – the World Heritage ‘list of shame’ – unless there was decisive action.

AMCS GBR Campaign Director Felicity Wishart said today, “Australia’s most important environmental asset was under serious threat from existing and proposed industrialisation along the Queensland coast. The Reef is worth $6 billion annually to the local economy.”

“Building of new ports, expanding existing ones, dredging the breeding and feeding grounds of marine wildlife, dumping the dredge spoil in the World Heritage Area, and significantly increasing the number of ships is happening now, and there are proposals for even further development,” Ms Wishart said.

WWF’s Reef Director Nick Heath said the Reef was in crisis from cumulative impacts.

“Industrialisation aside, the AIMS report concluded that improving water quality by reducing nutrient rich agricultural run-off was vital to reducing the spread of Crown of Thorns Starfish and the future health of the reef,” Mr Heath said.

“But that was six months ago. There’s been no funding commitment from the Federal Government since and that’s not good enough.”

WWF and AMCS today wrote to the leaders of all major political parties, challenging them to commit to major improvements in Reef protection and alerting them to the Fight for the Reef campaign.

[mappress]

Press Release, January 23, 2013

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