Australia: Draft GBR Strategic Assessment Released
The Great Barrier Reef will remain one of the world’s best managed reefs through the Queensland Government’s draft Strategic Assessment of the Great Barrier Reef coastal zone.
Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney, said the report assessed how the State’s planning, development, and coastal management processes identify and protect matters of national environmental significance, including the Outstanding Universal Value of the reef.
“Our strategic assessment of the coastal zone, adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef, works with the Federal Government’s Strategic Assessment of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to provide a comprehensive assessment as requested by UNESCO,” Mr Seeney said.
“It also proves our commitment to protecting the unique natural wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.
“The State Government is well aware of the reef’s importance, not only to the state and nation, but to the world.
“It is one of the world’s great natural wonders stretching 2,300km from the tip of Cape York to just north of Bundaberg.
“In our first 18 months in office the LNP Government has taken decisive steps to further protect the reef – ending Labor’s plans for a massive port development at Abbot Point and multiple rail corridors from the Galilee Basin.”
Queensland Minister for the Environment Andrew Powell outlined that the state’s assessment covered the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and two Ramsar wetlands that support 175 threatened species, 81 migratory species and seven threatened ecological communities.
Mr Powell said the strategic assessment found that the most significant threats to the reef continue to be the impacts of extreme climate events and the Crown of Thorns starfish.
“The 27 year analysis by the Australian Institute of Marine Science found that 48 per cent of the loss of coral cover in the reef since World Heritage listing was due to storm damage, 42 per cent from the crown of thorns starfish and 10 per cent from bleaching – not port development or shipping,” Mr Powell said.
“The Queensland and Australian Governments remain committed to the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan, which is why the Newman Government has committed significant resources to work proactively with canegrowers and graziers to better manage run off into coastal waters.
“We are also introducing practical measures to better ensure that the threat of Crown of Thorns starfish is reduced.”
Mr Powell highlighted that the 2011 report card, released in July 2013, confirmed that land management and water quality improvement was on a positive trajectory and that better land management was reducing pollutant loads entering the reef.
The report cards also showed that Cyclone Yasi in 2011 had a significant impact on the overall condition of the marine environment which declined from moderate to poor condition in 2010-11.
Mr Seeney said the Queensland Government was using better planning systems, rigorous assessment processes and emerging science to strengthen the resilience of the GBR coastal zone and speed up its recovery after extreme weather events.
He said improved management practices were also being adopted to support the future development of the coastal zone in a sustainable manner.
“This strategic assessment will underpin continued improvement in managing impacts on the Great Barrier Reef and ensure both Queensland’s and national interests are explicitly considered in planning and development processes.”
Mr Seeney said the recent release of the draft Queensland Ports Strategy also showed the Government’s commitment to improving management of impacts on the reef.
He said the draft strategy proposed the prohibition of capital dredging for the development of deep water port facilities outside the long established major bulk ports for the next 10 years.
People will have until 31 January, 2014 to make submissions on the comprehensive strategic assessment reports.
Press Release, November 1, 2013