UNESCO you know noth­ing about our reef

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

WHILE UNESCO’s World Her­itage Com­mit­tee is con­sid­er­ing la­belling the Great Bar­rier Reef ‘‘at risk’’, scuba divers, lo­cal tour op­er­a­tors and even the fish are all smiles.

A UNESCO re­port re­leased last week warned that not enough was be­ing done by the Fed­eral and Queens­land Gov­ern­ments to ad­dress con­cerns raised by the agency last year.

The agency said it is con­cerned about port de­vel­op­ment and wa­ter qual­ity but has post­poned chang­ing the cat­e­gory to ‘‘at risk’’ un­til next year.

Mean­while out at Agin­court Reef, off Port Dou­glas, Po­sei­don skip­per and Oak Beach Pro­duc­tions pho­tog­ra­pher David Miller said the reef and fish life have never looked bet­ter.

Mr Miller has been skip­per­ing reef boats for 35 years be­fore get­ting in­volved in un­der­wa­ter pho­tog­ra­phy and div­ing with Po­sei­don.

‘‘I have been div­ing the Agin­court reef sys­tem con­sis­tently since 1998 and I’ve seen noth­ing but re­ju­ve­na­tion - it has a high qual­ity of sur­vival through nat­u­ral means,’’ he said.

‘‘The health of the coral out there and the fish life is fan­tas- tic and just gets bet­ter.

‘‘In my opin­ion the reef is not af­fected by hu­mans, it’s dam­aged nat­u­rally and I have seen on other reefs around the world the to­tal dev­as­ta­tion from cy­clones or crown of thorns and in eight or nine years the reef is pris­tine again.’’

Healthy coral and fish life in green zones such as Agin­court at­tracts fish that are used to divers and go about their busi­ness as nor­mal like the coral trout which was re­cently snapped hav­ing his teeth cleaned.

‘‘ For fish­er­men that trout would make them sali­vate, but for us, what a beau­ti­ful look­ing fish,’’ Mr Miller said.

‘‘He knows he is in the green zone which is friendly, it’s amaz­ing how friendly fish can get when they don’t treat you as a threat.

‘‘This trout ig­nored our pres­ence and opened its mouth at th­ese cleaner sta­tions for cleaner wrasse to come in and re­move par­a­sites from their bod­ies to make them more ef­fi­cient on the reef as a feeder.

‘‘It’s a great ex­pe­ri­ence for all divers and snorkellers to be able to have that op­por­tu­nity, it’s quite spe­cial.’’

Pic­ture: DAVID MILLER/OAK BEACH PRO­DUC­TIONS

SAY CHEESE:

a coral trout ’get­ting his teeth cleaned’

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