As part of their joint Fight for the Reef campaign, WWF-Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society have released a scorecard assessing the performance of both the Queensland and Australian Governments’ management of the Great Barrier Reef.
Last year, UNESCO gave Australia a deadline to outline how it would better manage the Reef, noting that a failure to make ‘substantial progress’ would jeopardise its world heritage status. That deadline expires today.
WWF’s Campaign Director, Richard Leck said each government was judged on a set of criteria based on the World Heritage Committee’s list of recommendations.
“These dismal scores highlight our grave concerns that UNESCO is going to have no option but to recommend the Reef be put on its unenviable ‘List of World Heritage in Danger’ – the list of shame,” Mr Leck said.
“There’s a very real risk the Great Barrier Reef could lose its World Heritage status.
“The impact of that would be felt right throughout Queensland’s economy, especially its $6 billion reef tourism industry. Australia’s reputation is on the line.”
The scorecard shows the Queensland Government’s recent push to fast-track port development and weaken coastal protection laws are of major concern.
“The sheer size and speed of port and associated development along the Reef coast is unprecedented. There’s more dredging, more ships and more turtles and coral dying,” Mr Leck said.
“We also have significant concerns that instead of strengthening legislation to protect the Reef, the Queensland Government has moved to weaken legislation, which flies in the face of the World Heritage Committee’s recommendations.”
WWF and AMCS are calling on both governments to immediately implement a moratorium on approvals for all new major development until there is a sustainable and well-funded plan for the Reef’s future. The groups are also calling on the Australian Government to commit $500 million to reduce Reef pollution.
The World Heritage Committee has given the Australian and Queensland Governments until February 1 to respond to its decision from its 36th Session in July 2012 and report and outline how they will improve management and protection of the Great Barrier Reef.
If the response is judged inadequate, UNESCO at a meeting in June could recommend the Reef be inscribed on the List of World Heritage Areas in Danger, bringing international shame on Australia for not meeting its international obligations.