Great Barrier Reef outlook now 'very poor', Australian government review says

Great Barrier Reef outlook now 'very poor', Australian government review says”

"The significant and large-scale impacts from record-breaking sea surface temperatures have resulted in coral reef habitat transitioning from poor to very poor condition", the government agency said.

The long-term outlook for the Great Barrier Reef has been downgraded from "poor" to "very poor" for the first time.

Every five years, the country produces an analysis to look at the reef's health, pressures, and its future as required under the Great Barrier Reef Act.

The report notes habitat loss, degradation and adjustment in a number of areas; back-to-back years of coral bleaching; battering from cyclones; declining populations in some reef fish, marine turtles and seabirds; poor water quality; altered ocean currents and artificial light as just some of the challenges facing the Reef.

'However regardless of that with the correct mix of native actions to enhance the resilience of the system and world actions to deal with local weather change within the strongest and quickest manner doable, we are able to flip that round.

On the other hand, World Wildlife Fund-Australia's Head of Oceans, Richard Leck, said that "global warming is the primary reason the reef's outlook was downgraded".

The report lists climate change as the most significant long-term threat to the reef, with rising sea temperatures being the most immediate danger. "Global action on climate change is critical", he said.

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"Immediate national and global action is needed to cut climate pollution to levels that will maintain the ecological function of coral reef ecosystems".

The report from the Marine Park Authority coincides with the Reef Water Quality Report Card 2017 and 2018 which assesses the water that flows in the Marine Park.

Issues such as coastal development, illegal fishing and land-based run-off (where water is contaminated with pesticides and sediment) are also causing problems for the Reef.

The government insists it is meeting its emissions targets as set under worldwide protocols, including the Paris climate agreement, and argues that Australia's total greenhouse gas output remains far below that of major polluting nations.

Australia's environment minister Sussan Ley said she was not surprised by the downgrade in the reef's condition.

We've had 10 years of warnings, 10 years of rising greenhouse emissions and 10 years watching the reef heading for a catastrophe.

"The Great Barrier Reef is widely recognised as one of the best-managed marine protected areas in the world and its World Heritage values remain whole and intact. That means moving on from digging up and burning coal and gas for our energy", said Kelly O'Shanassy, CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

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