The Academy of Science has made a scathing submission to a draft report on Australia’s long-term management plan for the Great Barrier Reef.
Australia’s top science academy has slammed a joint state and federal plan to protect the Great Barrier Reef, saying it won’t stop its decline.
The Academy of Science has made a scathing submission to the Queensland and Commonwealth’s 2050 draft report which outlines the country’s long-term management plan for the reef.
It says the plan fails to address any of the key pressures on the reef including climate change, water quality, development and fishing.
“This is a plan that won’t restore the reef, it won’t even maintain it in its already diminished state,” Professor Terry Hughes, an academy fellow who contributed to the submission, said.
“The science is clear. The reef is degraded and its condition is worsening.”
Climate change has been virtually ignored and any improvements in reducing runoff from farms will likely be swamped by “unprecedented” amounts of dredging for coal ports and by growth in the agriculture industry, he says.
Governance issues, including potential conflict of interest and a lack of oversight, aren’t addressed either, he says.
He is urging authorities to take much bolder action to restore the reef which he says is worth $5 billion a year to the Australian economy.
Prof Hughes, who is also the director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, says it could be argued the reef is under more pressure due to Australia’s lack of planning to reduce carbon emissions.
The plan focuses on ticking off concerns raised by the World Heritage Committee rather than long-term challenges, he says.
The Reef 2050 report was commissioned after UNESCO demanded Australia come up with a plan to safeguard the reef, as authorities consider whether to list it as a World Heritage site in danger.
The document includes targets and actions to help protect the reef from threats and sets out other priorities, such as species conservation.
But there is also acknowledgment that “existing sustainable activities”, listed as tourism, shipping, agriculture, fishing and others, should be supported.
Comment has been sought from the state and federal environment ministers.