QRC: Science Confirms Great Barrier Reef Challenges

The scientific focus on improving the health of the Great Barrier Reef took another leap forward today with the release of several important reports from the Queensland and Australian Governments.

Commenting on the release of the Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment, Great Barrier Reef Program Reports and Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2014, Queensland Resources Council (QRC) Chief Executive Michael Roche said the documents provided a strong foundation for protecting the ‘outstanding universal value’ of the reef.

“As called out in 2009, this year’s Outlook Report confirms continuing threats to reef health including storms, terrestrial run-off, Crown-of-Thorns starfish, climate change, coastal development and fishing,” Mr Roche said.

The strategic assessment is exactly what UNESCO has requested of the governments – scientifically rigorous and comprehensive expert assessments of the health and outlook for the Great Barrier Reef with input from the world’s leading marine scientists.

“The minerals and energy exporters represented by the QRC also recognize the importance of continuous improvement in approaches to port development and port management alongside the reef.

“In particular, industry strongly supports the Queensland Government’s Ports Strategy, released in June, which provides a conservative and sustainable approach to future development in the five long-established Priority Port Development Areas (PPDAs) – meeting another UNESCO recommendation.

“I congratulate the Australian and Queensland Governments, their officials and the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority in completing perhaps the largest ever strategic assessment of a World Heritage property.”

Mr Roche said all the reports provided important data for use in finalizing the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan.

“The QRC is proud to be a member of the multi-stakeholder partnership group working with Environment Ministers Greg Hunt and Andrew Powell to oversee the development of the Reef 2050 Plan – Australia’s comprehensive plan to preserve the outstanding universal value of the reef and progressively improve its health.

“This plan also needs to convince UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee that Australia and Queensland have a comprehensive strategy to protect the reef.

“Failure to convince the committee is to risk an in-danger listing of the reef, an outcome that would be huge blow to Australia’s reputation and result in major detriment to the tourism, agriculture, fishing and resource industries,” he said.

Press Release, August 12, 2014

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