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World Heritage Committee report confirms global action required to save reefs

World Heritage Committee report confirms global action required to save reefs
June 21, 2017

A World Heritage Committee draft report on climate change and coral bleaching released this week confirms global action is needed to address a major problem affecting coral reefs world-wide.

Climate change, and its devastating impact on the Great Barrier Reef plus many other world heritage coral sites around the world, is on the agenda of next month’s crucial UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in Poland.

The draft report says that 75% of the 29 world heritage coral reefs were exposed to conditions that cause bleaching over the past three years.

Commenting on the issues raised in the report, Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles stated “this really underscores what the Queensland Government has been advocating for some time; that immediate action on a global scale is required to protect the future of all coral reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef.

“This means that both Australia and Queensland will need to do their fair share.

“The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s greatest assets, providing habitat for some of the world’s most magnificent marine animals.

“But the reef’s greatest threat is rising sea temperatures, which scientific research has clearly shown to be the result of a changing climate and a leading cause of coral bleaching.”

Minister Miles said the draft WHC report showed the dramatic extent of the problem across the world, adding “sadly, it is not just the Great Barrier Reef that is suffering this catastrophic level of coral bleaching - it is being seen right around the world.

“There is no doubt climate change is a real issue affecting us at this very moment, as coral bleaching events are showing.

“The draft WHC report gives us confidence that the global community is now seeing a changing climate as a global issue.

“If people and governments worldwide are to protect their coral reefs and the marine life they support, it will take a global effort to constantly improve the fight against climate change.”

Minister Miles said aerial surveys and 398 in-water surveys of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park had recently been done to study the health of the reef and improve situational awareness of the coral bleaching event.

Imogen Zethoven, Fight For Our Reef Campaign Director and Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS)  spokesperson also advised “climate change, driven mainly by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and gas, is the single biggest threat to our Great Barrier Reef and all the world’s coral reefs,”

“Our Great Barrier Reef has been severely damaged over the last two years. Many scientists believe it will never be the same again. While there are still many beautiful individual reefs to see, there is no escaping the fact that nearly 50% of the shallow water corals have died

“The damage to our Reef is a national disaster which the Federal Government is ignoring to its peril.”

AMCS will be attending the World Heritage Committee meeting in Poland and will be taking the message to the Committee on behalf of the Australian public that our government is putting the interests of the coal industry and Adani ahead of our World Heritage listed icon.

For more information on the ACMS’ campaign to protect the Great Barrier Reef go to www.fightforourreef.org.au

Images: Coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.

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29th May 2016 - AUSTRALIAN REFERENCES REMOVED FROM UN CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT OVER ‘TOURISM CONCERNS’

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9th February 2016 - UNESCO TRAINING WORKSHOP FOR ASIA-PACIFIC’S COASTAL AND MARINE WORLD HERITAGE SITES 

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