The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has presented a draft decision on the world heritage status of the Great Barrier Reef. It recommends adding the reef to the World Heritage In Danger list in 2015.
Environment group Save the Reef urged the Queensland government to strengthen promises to protect North Curtis Island and the Fitzroy delta as soon as possible to avoid the listing in 2015.
‘It is also important to rescind the approval for a fourth LNG plant on Curtis Island,’ Save the Reef spokesperson Dr Andrew Jeremijenko said.
‘UNESCO specifically mentioned that it was concerned about this and the approval of dredging at Abbot Point.’
‘The only reason the fourth plant has not proceeded is because Shell concluded it was not financially viable in the present economic climate.
‘If Shell’s analysis changes, then this will be one more cumulative impact inhibiting reef resilience.’
UNESCO pointed to the lack of recovery of inshore reefs in the southern two-thirds of the GBR owing to past disturbances.
It also expressed concern about state and federal governments giving these approvals before strategic assessment and a long-term plan for sustainable development had been undertaken.
‘We need a real plan of action with concrete, measurable actions as soon as possible,’ Dr Jeremijenko said.
‘That includes legislating protection of the Fitzroy Delta and North Curtis Island before the end of 2014.
‘Unless such a plan is available for public scrutiny as soon as possible we fear that it will not be sufficiently robust to meet world heritage standards.
‘UNESCO has presented an excellent analysis of reef threats and has not been persuaded by government spin.’
Save the Reef spokesperson Libby Connors pointed out this statement backs the position of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, not Qld environment minister Andrew Powell, who attacked the company earlier in the week over their concern about the state of the reef.