Sci­en­tists gather in Cairns for sym­po­sium on co­ral reef

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - ANGELIQUE PAT­TER­SON

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.

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