Great Barrier Reef outlook downgraded to ‘very poor’

Great Barrier Reef outlook downgraded to ‘very poor’

An outlook for the condition of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has been downgraded from “poor” to “very poor” due to warming oceans.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s condition report, which is updated every five years, is the latest bad news for the 133,360sq mile colourful coral network off the north-east Australian coast as climate change and bleaching take their toll.

The report says the greatest threat to the reef remains climate change, while other threats are associated with coastal development, land-based water run-off and human activity such as illegal fishing.

“Significant global action to address climate change is critical to slowing the deterioration of the reef’s ecosystem and heritage values and supporting recovery,” the report said.

“Such actions will complement and greatly increase the effectiveness of local management actions in the Reef and its catchment.”

The report is the agency’s third and tracks continuing deterioration since the first in 2009. The deterioration in the reef’s outlook mostly reflects the expanding area of coral killed or damaged by bleaching.

The report said the threats – which include the star-of-thorns starfish that prey on coral polyps – are “multiple, cumulative and increasing.”

Authority chairman Ian Poiner said: “The accumulation of impacts, through time and over an increasing area, is reducing its ability to recover from disturbances, with implications for reef-dependent communities and industries.

“The overall outlook for the Great Barrier Reef is very poor.”

A study of coral bleaching on the reef, published in the journal Nature in 2017, found 91% of the coral reef had been bleached at least once during three bleaching events of the past two decades, the most serious event occurring in 2016.

A fourth major bleaching struck later in 2017 after the Nature study was published.

The United Nations World Heritage Committee expressed concern about bleaching in 2017 and the latest report could lead to the World Heritage-listed natural wonder being reclassified by Unesco next year as “in danger”.

Australian environment minister Sussan Ley said she was not surprised by the downgrade in the reef’s condition given the damage done by recent cyclones and bleaching events over successive years.

She said her government is “building resilience in this important global reef” and is keeping its Paris commitment to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030.

“I want to make the point that it’s the best managed reef in the world,” she said.

While the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system, reefs around the world are also under stress from warming ocean temperatures.

- Press Association

More on this topic

Australian teen charged with running over 20 kangaroosAustralian teen charged with running over 20 kangaroos

Folau’s Tonga switch in doubt after RLIF interventionFolau’s Tonga switch in doubt after RLIF intervention

Hiker drags himself through woods for two days with broken legHiker drags himself through woods for two days with broken leg

Surfer saved from shark attack thanks to warning from droneSurfer saved from shark attack thanks to warning from drone

More in this Section

Drink-driving footballers told they brought ‘shame upon club’ as they avoid jailDrink-driving footballers told they brought ‘shame upon club’ as they avoid jail

Margaret Atwood: Booker Prize will be irrelevant if we don’t save environmentMargaret Atwood: Booker Prize will be irrelevant if we don’t save environment

Jurors in sexual assault trial shown pictures of Gascoigne kissesJurors in sexual assault trial shown pictures of Gascoigne kisses

Nato chief voices ‘deep concerns’ over Turkish military action in northern SyriaNato chief voices ‘deep concerns’ over Turkish military action in northern Syria


Lifestyle

To instantly power up your look, veer towards the hard shoulder.Bold shoulder: How to instantly power up your look

Plums are a wonderful autumn fruit, useful for all sorts of recipes both sweet and savoury. In Ireland we are blessed with wonderfully sweet plums.Currabinny Cooks: Juicy plums work for both sweet and savoury dishes

The rise of home skincare devices doesn't mean that salons and clinics no longer serve a purpose.The Skin Nerd: Don’t try this at home — new treatments in the salon

Millions of gamers watched Fortnite reach breaking point on Sunday night, with ten seasons of mysterious storyline culminating in meteors hitting the island and everything disappearing.GameTech: End of beginning for Fortnite as Chapter 2 finally goes live

More From The Irish Examiner