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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

The Hon Anna Bligh MP
Premier of Queensland

The Hon Kate Jones MP
Queensland Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability

A renewed outlook for the Great Barrier Reef

Media release
2 September 2009

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A new report released today illustrates the need for strong, decisive action to save one of the world's most important natural wonders — the Great Barrier Reef — from the impacts of climate change.

The Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2009, released today by federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett, is the first comprehensive assessment of the health of the Great Barrier Reef and its outlook.

"The Outlook Report identifies that overall the reef remains one of the world's healthiest coral reef ecosystems, but that significant challenges need to be met to ensure this remains the case," Mr Garrett said.

"Comprehensive, effective and immediate action on climate change is critical. So too is action to help the reef withstand the impacts of the already changing climate."

Mr Garrett and Queensland Climate Change Minister Kate Jones today released a joint response to the Outlook Report, outlining a cooperative, re-energised, and whole-of-ecosystem approach to protecting the reef.

"The response accelerates existing efforts that make the reef already one of the best protected in the world and most able to withstand the effects of the changing climate," Ms Jones said.

These efforts include the 2004 comprehensive rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the recent overhauling of the 30 year old Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 and the June 2009 signing of a new Great Barrier Reef Intergovernmental Agreement.

As a key part of the response to the Outlook Report, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and Mr Garrett today launched a new Reef Water Quality Protection Plan.

"Under the Plan, the Queensland and the Commonwealth governments have committed to halving harmful runoff entering the Reef from agricultural land in the next five years," said Premier Bligh.

"Improving the quality of water flowing into the reef is one of the most important things we can do to help the Reef withstand the impacts of climate change."

The Outlook Report also highlights the importance of taking action to reduce our carbon pollution.

"We know that a failure to act on dangerous climate change puts at risk significant places like the Great Barrier Reef and this report confirms the scale of the challenge ahead," Mr Garrett said.

"The governments' response to the Outlook Report highlights key first steps in addressing key pressures on the reef," said Ms Jones.

"Both governments recognise the significant environmental and economic value of the reef, and are determined to protect it now and into the future."

The Outlook Report was prepared by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority based on the best available information.

The report identifies climate change, catchment runoff, loss of coastal habitats and fisheries management as key challenges facing the Reef.

The Outlook Report is available from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority — www.gbrmpa.gov.au 

The joint government response to Outlook Report is available from the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts — www.environment.gov.au

The Reef Water Quality Protection Plan is available at www.reefplan.qld.gov.au 

Commonwealth of Australia