The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for the Environment
Strategic Assessment will help protect the Great Barrier Reef
1 November 2013
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The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s great natural wonders and protecting it for the future is vital.
Today, the Commonwealth Government has released a comprehensive draft Strategic Assessment of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area for public comment.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) Strategic Assessment has been conducted in parallel with the Queensland Government and provides a big-picture analysis of factors impacting the World Heritage Area.
GBRMPA has carried out the marine component of the assessment to consider the impact of activities on the water. The Queensland Government has undertaken a separate assessment of the coastal zone component.
The GBRMPA Strategic Assessment addresses a number challenges facing the reef that must be addressed to improve overall water quality. Most significantly, this includes measures to reduce sediment, nitrogen and nutrient flows, which also boosts the population of the damaging Crown of Thorns Starfish.
Going forward, the Strategic Assessment proposes a ‘halt and reverse’ approach to turn around the health of the reef, including:
- Establishing a management framework based on outcomes and targets.
- Examining the cumulative effect of human activities and natural forces, rather than looking at impacts in isolation.
- Adopting a ‘net benefit policy’ so that activities produce an overall benefit to the condition of the reef.
- Implementing a Reef Recovery Program to restore the health of the reef by working with communities, local industries, Traditional Owners and government agencies.
- Establish a reef-wide integrated monitoring and reporting program to ensure measures being taken are making a difference.
Everyone wants to see the reef remain one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet so it can be enjoyed by future generations.
Having long-term actions and partnerships in place for tackling the challenges facing the reef help to provide greater certainty for the community, industry and the environment.
The Strategic Assessment will also guide the Commonwealth Government’s Reef 2050 Plan and priorities for the Reef Trust which will inject money into projects for long-term sustainability.
All Australians have a strong connection and have a great sense of pride in the Great Barrier Reef.
As well as being a natural marvel, the reef plays a vital role in the North Queensland economy, generating significant business and tourism.
The draft GBRMPA Strategic Assessment – which was the largest and most comprehensive ever undertaken in Australia – provides an opportunity for people to express their views on how the reef can be protected long into the future.
As this is a large and complex assessment, the comment period will remain open until on 31 January 2014 to allow adequate time for the public and other stakeholders to comment.
The GBRMPA and Queensland Government reports are a key response to the World Heritage Committee’s recommendations made in 2012.
The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area Strategic Assessment and the program reports can be downloaded at: www.reefhaveyoursay.com.au