Keep our reef under spotlight
IT seems our reef is safe, at least for now. This is great news.
The World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, meeting in Bonn, Germany, this week decided not to include the Great Barrier Reef on its in- danger list.
Instead, it will continue to monitor Australia’s management of this living treasure to see if promises of increased protection and surveillance are kept.
Much has been riding on the decision.
For the coal industry, wanting to ramp up exports of Queensland’s black gold — or white death, whichever way you see it — they need the claim that everything is OK.
Conversely, the anti- coal lobby need to put the case of troubled waters to shut coal down.
For the tourism industry, relying on the perception of the magnificence of the reef, the decision is vital to their fortunes.
No one wants to see a dead reef, though, perhaps in the future, there could be an angle in encouraging people to come and see the reef before it’s gone.
After all, the Italians use this to great effect with the sinking city of Venice, and climate change is the biggest risk to the survival of coral reefs. Then there’s us. We love the reef and use it for all kinds of enjoyment, some with little or no impact, others akin to rape and pillage.
If truth be told, the likes of me would be among the reef’s greatest threats. I am an avid fisher and sheller, though always, of course, within recreational laws.
If anything, I see the hyperbole surrounding the danger listing of the reef’s status as a good thing.
It has put this treasure into the minds of people around the world and prompted our governments to redouble their efforts.
There is a new Reef 2050 LongTerm Sustainability Plan with ambitious targets to improve water quality with promises of extra funding.
We will have to hold them to their promises to help councils and industry improve water quality and not buckpass these extra costs on to us.