WWF Has Reservations About Government Plan For Great Barrier Reef

The WWF has accepted there are some positives in the draft Reef 2050 plan, however it has some concerns and said the plan falls short of delivering the bold action that is necessary to save the reef.

The plan is the Government of Australia and Queensland’s response to concerns set by the World Heritage Committee which is worried about the poor management of the Great Barrier Reef.

The final plan is expected in December and will be very important in determining whether the Reef is declared “in danger” next year.

 

“WWF recognises that Reef 2050 is a more co-ordinated approach to turning around the Reef’s health. We also applaud that Reef 2050 rules out port development in the undeveloped areas of Keppel Bay, Fitzroy Delta and North Curtis Island – something the local community has pursued for many years. But at this stage Reef 2050 lacks the suite of bold new actions needed to halt the Reef’s decline. However, this plan is a draft and now is the time for people to get involved and have a say in saving the Reef. We believe that the Queensland and Australian governments are listening. Last week people power helped convince our governments that dumping dredge spoil in reef waters is ‘environmentally the worst option’ and led to moves to reverse the decision to dump three million cubic metres in the sea off Abbot Point. WWF has consistently called for a legislated ban on dumping dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area,” said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman.

WWF-Australia’s specific concerns with the Reef 2050 draft include that it does not yet:

  • Offer the billions of dollars that are needed to ensure the health of the Reef is restored.
  • Set the bold targets required to achieve the agricultural pollution cuts necessary to improve the resilience of the Reef.
  • Ban dumping and minimize dredging in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
  • Protect Cape York from the impacts of port development and agriculture to make sure the best part of the Reef remains healthy.
  • Address the weakening of state environmental laws. Strong laws are necessary to ensure that new development does not cause any harm to the Reef.

Mr. Gorman added that the Government’s Reef Outlook Report 2014 found the Great Barrier Reef in poor condition and warned of the risk that the Reef was in irreversible decline, if the key threats of fishing, climate change, coastal development and catchment pollution were not addressed.

“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. It is part of our natural heritage and we all have a responsibility as Australians to make sure it is looked after for now and for future generations,” Mr O’Gorman said.

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