Australians think the Great Barrier Reef has lost out to developments over the past few decades, a survey conducted for environmental groups has revealed.

Most Australians want those in power to make protecting the Great Barrier Reef a priority, a new poll carried out on behalf of green groups shows.

Almost two thirds of the 1500 people polled nationally also said the reef had lost out to industrial development over the past few decades.

Two thirds of respondents also said the reef’s World Heritage status made it more important to protect ecosystems, while a quarter said it made no difference.

But 15 per cent said Queensland’s coal industry was vital to boosting the state’s economy, even if it was at the expense of the reef’s health.

The poll was conducted in April and May on behalf of WWF and the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

It comes less than a week before the World Heritage Committee discusses the reef’s status as part of its annual meeting, which will be held in Qatar from June 15-25.