Scientists gather in Cairns for symposium on coral reef
OVER 2000 scientists from 80 countries have gathered in Cairns this week for the 12th international coral reef symposium to share research and debate the future.
The coral reef science community gathers somewhere in the world every four years, with the conference expected to pump $3 million into the Cairns’ economy.
Organiser Terry Hughes, the director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, said there is an amazing diversity of topics and issues being discussed.
“It’s not just about coral reef science, there’s an increasing focus on the human dimension on the coral reef and the social and economic aspects,” he said.
“Many of the people are from poor developing countries where the coral reef is important for food security and for sustainable fishing and of course reef tourism.
“The main focus of the meeting is how we can turn around the downward trajectory of the reefs, there’s quite a focus on climate change, fisheries management, restoring fish populations and runoffs from the land.”
There are 12 talks happening simultaneously throughout the symposium, 1500 presentations in total and a chance for the science community to learn more and network.
Mr Hughes said they have been monitoring climate change for over two decades.
“The Great Barrier Reef had big bleaching events in 1998 and again in 2002 and this was a big wake up for science and reef managers in Australia because our relatively wellmanaged system is being threatened by climate change,” he said.
Mr Hughes said the current state of the reef is better than average.
“We’ve had a couple of wet summers with high cloud cover and that protects the reef although the floods have been quite damaging to near-shore areas of the reef with a lot of sediment washed down,” he said.