UNESCO: Reef not in dan­ger

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

WHILE the UNESCO World Her­itage Com­mit­tee re­cently rec­om­mended against list­ing the Great Bar­rier Reef as “in dan­ger”, Whit­sun­day lo­cals say the reef is not out of the woods yet.

The draft de­ci­sion from the World Her­itage Com­mit­tee was wel­comed by Fed­eral En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Greg Hunt, who de­scribed the move as a strong en­dorse­ment of the State and Fed­eral gov­ern­ments’ work.

How­ever, the Great Bar­rier Reef re­mains on the UNESCO watch list and both gov­ern­ments will have to pro­vide a joint up­date to the com­mit­tee in two years time.

Whit­sun­day Char­ter Boat In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Tony Brown said the UNESCO de­ci­sion was a re­sult of the good work done by gov­ern­ment in the past three to four years.

But he noted this was only the be­gin­ning of a long process.

“Ev­ery­thing is not sud­denly changed through this one de­ci­sion,” he said.

“It’s more of an af­fir­ma­tion that the gov­ern­ment’s tak­ing the right ap­proach – how­ever we are at the start.

“We’re all re­ally hop­ing that the 2050 plan will have the ef­fect of ac­tu­ally help­ing the re­silience of the reef to face fur­ther fu­ture im­pacts.”

Whit­sun­day dive op­er­a­tor Tony Fontes said the de­ci­sion was “no sur­prise”.

“There was re­ally never a chance it was go­ing to be in dan­ger. If UNESCO didn’t put it in dan­ger af­ter the Glad­stone de­ba­cle, they cer­tainly weren’t go­ing to put it in dan­ger this time around,” he said.

“How­ever, it’s on the watch list, which tells us that things are not good.

“De­spite the gov­ern­ment spin, the reef has not been given a clean bill of health and there is much work to be done.”

Aus­tralian Marine Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety Great Bar­rier Reef com­mu­nity cam­paigner Cherry Mud­dle said the de­ci­sion showed the reef’s health was still in dan­ger and both State and Fed­eral gov­ern­ments needed to do more.

“It’s cer­tainly not the clean bill of health (Mr Hunt) is claim­ing,” she said.

“What UNESCO have said is the reef is still on the watch list. They’re go­ing to keep a close eye on the gov­ern­ment to make sure the plans tran­scend into real ac­tion that will pro­tect the reef.”

The World Her­itage Com­mit­tee will meet in Bonn, Ger­many, at the end of June to make a fi­nal de­ci­sion on the sta­tus of the reef.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.