The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) have urgently ‘sounded the warning bell’ for the Great Barrier Reef this summer. Authorities have warned that Queensland is facing one of the warmest years on record, projecting a great risk for the Reef.
AMCS spokesperson Shani Tager said: ‘This is a clear warning about the grave danger that our beautiful Reef is in because of climate change.
‘Australian emissions are climbing ever upwards. At the same time our Reef has never been more threatened from runaway climate change which is driving underwater heatwaves, extreme weather events and ocean acidification.’
This statement follows a concerning Outlook Report from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), which highlights the Reef’s environmental status has dropped from ‘poor’ to ‘very poor’, in regards to its future health.
The effect of the warming oceans is an issue witnessed daily by the Wavelength marine biologists. Wavelength is an eco-certified snorkelling company based in Port Douglas, Queensland. Mass coral bleaching, when unnaturally hot oceans destroy the colourful coral algae, subsequently starves the coral. This is resulting in the death of coral throughout the Reef – 30% perished in 2016, and a further 20% perished in 2017.
While the situation remains dire, it is not too late to act. ‘To give our Reef a fighting chance, and safeguard the 64,000 jobs that it supports, Queensland and the federal government need to take urgent action to slash emissions and rapidly transition from dirty coal,’ said Tager.
Wavelength is working on several conservation programs to protect and rehabilitate the reef, including research on the adaptability of corals and replanting the reef in coral nurseries. They advocate ‘eco-tourism’ by minimising their carbon footprint and donating the value of the remaining footprint to climate and reef advocacy groups.
In 2020, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee will investigate Australia’s role in protecting the Great Barrier Reef. Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley and Queensland’s Environment Minister Leanne Enoch released a joint statement acknowledging climate change as the biggest threat to the health of the Great Barrier Reef.
Tager said both State and Federal governments needed to take urgent action and shift to renewable energy if our Reef is to have a fighting chance of survival. ‘Unless we start tackling this climate crisis, our Reef will remain in danger.’