WWF-Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society today released a 10-point plan to save the Great Barrier Reef, in response to the Queensland Government’s Draft Reef 2050 strategy.
The Fight for the Reef solution calls for dumping to be banned and dredging minimised, an end to farm chemical pollution, permanent protection for sensitive areas including on Cape York and the Greater Fitzroy Delta, federal retention of development approval powers, and increased independence and funding for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
It comes as Australia’s most prestigious scientific body – the Australian Academy of Science – today warned that the draft Reef 2050 Plan won’t save the reef and fails to address key pressures.
“Australia’s most respected reef experts are telling the Government that the Reef is in poor condition and there is a serious risk of irreversible decline if bold action is not taken quickly,” said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman.
“Fight for the Reef’s 10 point plan spells out the crucial actions that must be included in the Government’s final Reef 2050 Plan, due in December.”
“This is an extremely important issue to Australians. More than 4000 Fight for the Reef supporters provided submissions calling on the government to dramatically strengthen the Reef 2050 plan.
“The strength of the final plan will be critical in determining whether or not the World Heritage Committee declares the Reef “in danger” in 2015,” he said.
“The proposed solutions in Reef 2050 are not bold enough, not fast enough and the level of funding is simply not big enough,” said AMCS Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director Felicity Wishart.
“The Government’s own Reef Outlook Report 2014 found that the Reef was in poor condition and there was a serious risk of irreversible decline, if the key threats of climate change, port development, farm chemical pollution, and some fishing activities weren’t addressed.
“We urge the government to adopt our ten point plan as part of the Reef 2050 strategy.
“The Reef is one of the world’s great natural wonders and we cannot allow it to be turned into an industrial park and a shipping super-highway.
“The long-term survival of the Great Barrier Reef depends on the world acting together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including strong action from Australia. At the same, building the Reef’s resilience by addressing other threats is critical in a warming world.
“While the draft Reef 2050 Plan is a step forward, a giant leap is required to secure the future of the Reef,” she said.
Fight for the Reef – Ten Point Plan
To restore the Reef’s health and give it the best chance of being resilient to climate change:
1. Ban dumping and minimise dredging in the Reef World Heritage Area.
2. Cut pollution and reduce Crown of Thorns starfish outbreaks by supporting farmers reduce erosion and fertiliser runoff.
3. Permanently protect the most sensitive coastal habitats from development, including on Cape York, the Greater Fitzroy Delta, and nationally significant wetlands like the Caley Valley.
4. Strengthen the laws that protect the Reef and retain Australian government oversight of development approvals.
5. Strengthen the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s role as a champion for the reef by increasing its independence and ensuring adequate funding.
6. Reverse the decline in numbers of turtles and dugongs and give indigenous communities a greater role in the management of their sea-country.
7. Restore degraded rivers, wetlands and bushland in Reef catchments to provide cleaner water and improve wildlife habitat.
8. Use existing port facilities more efficiently, limit new development to current port footprints, and make sure all Reef ports are managed to world’s best standards.
9. Ban high risk ships from entering Reef waters, control the number of ships crossing the Reef and reduce the impacts of shipping such as anchorages, pollution and invasive pests.
10. A healthy Reef is essential for the Queensland economy. Invest billions not millions to help farmers cut pollution; communities restore river catchments; and fishers operate more sustainably.