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Great Barrier Reef to lose World Heritage Status?

01/02/2013 10:38:52
whales/Marine_2012/wwf_barrier_reef

Reef industries, worth approximately $5.8 billion to the Australian economy, are reliant on a healthy environment in which to operate. © WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY

Great Barrier Reef scorecard highlights risk to World Heritage Status - Australian Government put on red alert

February 2013. As part of their joint Fight for the Reef campaign, WWF-Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society have released a scorecard assessing the performance of both the Queensland and Australian Governments' management of the Great Barrier Reef.

Last year, UNESCO gave Australia a deadline to outline how it would better manage the Reef, noting that a failure to make ‘substantial progress' would jeopardise its world heritage status. That deadline has expired.

WWF's Campaign Director, Richard Leck said each government was judged on a set of criteria based on the World Heritage Committee's list of recommendations.

$6 billion Reef Tourism
Mr Leck said "These dismal scores highlight our grave concerns that UNESCO is going to have no option but to recommend the Reef be put on its unenviable ‘List of World Heritage in Danger' - the list of shame. There's a very real risk the Great Barrier Reef could lose its World Heritage status. The impact of that would be felt right throughout Queensland's economy, especially its $6 billion reef tourism industry. Australia's reputation is on the line."

Port development
The scorecard shows the Queensland Government's recent push to fast-track port development and weaken coastal protection laws are of major concern.

"The sheer size and speed of port and associated development along the Reef coast is unprecedented. There's more dredging, more ships and more turtles and coral dying. We also have significant concerns that instead of strengthening legislation to protect the Reef, the Queensland Government has moved to weaken legislation, which flies in the face of the World Heritage Committee's recommendations." Mr Leck said.

WWF and AMCS are calling on both governments to immediately implement a moratorium on approvals for all new major development until there is a sustainable and well-funded plan for the Reef's future. The groups are also calling on the Australian Government to commit $500 million to reduce Reef pollution.

The scorecard is available for download here.

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