Great Barrier Reef's Future Is 'Very Poor', Government Promises Action
The outlook for the Great Barrier Reef is "very poor" and will not improve unless global action is taken to address climate change, a new report has warned.
Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley insists the government is committed to improving the Great Barrier Reef which a new report lists as having a "very poor" outlook.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on Friday released its third five-yearly outlook for the reef, which draws on more than 1000 scientific reports and papers.
The report pinpoints climate change as the greatest threat to the health of the world's largest coral ecosystem.
"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," GBRMPA chair Ian Poiner said.
"The overall outlook for the Great Barrier Reef is very poor."
Ley said the government was investing $1.2 billion in the reef as well as its $3.5 billion climate solutions package.
"This is an outlook we can change and are committed to changing," she said of the reef outlook shift over the past five years from "poor" to "very poor".
Labor environment spokeswoman Terri Butler said the government's reef and climate policy was in crisis.
"Australians will end up paying the price, as regional economies, industries and jobs are further strained by a government at odds with facts and in a dangerous spiral of science denial," she said.
Separate figures released on Friday showed Australia's emissions in the year to March increased by 0.6 per cent.
The authority's report says the reef's value as a World Heritage Area remains whole and intact, but notes that "its integrity is challenged and deteriorating".
Warming waters will continue to change the region, with reefs set to become less diverse, while species of fish living in the reef will change.
Climate change also threatens shark and ray populations, with 30 species within the reef region highly or moderately vulnerable to climate change.
There are also concerns for three of the six species of marine turtles in the reef, all of which are already listed as threatened.
The number of superyachts travelling through the region is expected to increase, and along with it the existing risks from ships of groundings, oil spills, damage to the sea floor from anchoring and illegal discharge of garbage.
The Climate Council wants the federal government to do more to rapidly decrease emissions in order to protect the reef and the tourism industry.