Australian Coral Reef Society Inc.

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“Australian governments and industry can provide no guarantees that further ... diversity, beauty and significance to
Australian Coral Reef Society Inc. A society promoting scientific study of Australian Coral Reefs Address:


ACRS Correspondence c/- Biological Sciences The University of Queensland St Lucia QLD 4072 (07) 3365 1686 [email protected]


Media Release: 6 April 2016

Great Barrier Reef faces devastation without immediate action experts warn Recent unparalleled bleaching of corals in The Great Barrier Reef signals that future coal port developments must be halted lest increased stress on delicate reef ecosystems leads to a complete collapse marine scientists warn. The reef’s long-term future is increasingly doubtful due to climate change, pollution and stresses from port development, according to David Booth, Australian Coral Reef Society President and Professor of Marine Ecology at the University of Technology Sydney. “An increasingly complex interplay of damaging and disruptive factors are destroying the Great Barrier Reef’s ability to function normally as a rich, healthy ecosystem,” Professor Booth said. “Australian governments and industry can provide no guarantees that further development will not hasten the demise of the reef, especially when all evidence points to its collapse if we stay on the current course. “The threat of loss of the reef is of global concern. It’s a global emergency. The value of the reef in terms of biodiversity, beauty and significance to Australia’s fisheries and tourism industries cannot be underestimated. “Failure on the part of our governments to protect the reef for all time, for the benefit of all, would be one deserving global condemnation. “The reef is like the canary in the coalmine - its ongoing viability is a measure of how likely other ecological communities will survive the expected and unknown impacts of global climate change and biological change. “The demise of the reef would be one of the greatest signals that the world our children’s children will inherit will be impoverished of the living wonders we take for granted,” Professor Booth said. The Australian Coral Reef Society (ACRS) is the world’s oldest professional group of coral reef scientists. Among them are experts who recently documented that more than 65 per cent of The Great Barrier Reef had been affected by coral bleaching - the most extensive damage ever recorded. “The Turnbull and Palaszczuk governments’ announcements that the Carmichael Coal mine will go ahead with associated development of the Abbot Point coal port spells disaster for the reef,” Prof Booth said. “The Abbot Point port development will affect inshore sections of the reef with silt and likely ship groundings, while development of the Galilee Basin will increase global carbon dioxide emissions. “Industry, government and all of us individually must now put in action plans to reduce carbon emissions in order to protect the reef from further harm and assist in its recovery. Australia is one of the global leaders in alternative energy technology, and we should be embracing this new energy sector. Jobs should be created to achieve this, rather than jobs that destroy our precious reef.” ACRS Vice-President Dr Andrew Hoey, who will soon assess the extent of the bleaching on the northern part of the reef, said never had the need to take nation-wide action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions been greater. “We are now witnessing the clear and devastating effects of a changing climate on our irreplaceable natural wonders,” Dr Hoey said. Professor David Booth 0427 499 649

Dr Andrew Hoey 0458 174 583