UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee (WHC) has delivered a vote of confidence in Australia’s ongoing management of the iconic Great Barrier Reef (GBR).
Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Michael Roche said all Australians would welcome the committee’s decision in Doha (Qatar) to reject activist calls to place the reef on the World Heritage ‘in-danger’ list.
‘We are pleased the committee is as focused on the future management of the Great Barrier Reef as we are here,’ Mr Roche said.
‘The decision is global acknowledgement that Australia is on track to deliver a long-term plan for conservation of the Great Barrier Reef’s outstanding universal value (OUV).
‘The federal and state governments’ progress on improving the reef’s management and health is evident from the recently released Queensland Ports Strategy and Reef Water Quality Report Card.’
Mr Roche said the report card confirmed science-based programs were improving reef water quality, which in turn, would play a role in reducing Crown-of-Thorn starfish outbreaks.
Storm damage, starfish outbreaks and coral bleaching were identified by the Australian Institute of Marine Science in 2012 as the major threats to reef health.
‘In relation to future port management, the Cumulative Impact Assessment prepared for the Abbot Point coal terminal expansion has created a new standard for informing government decision-makers.
‘The cumulative approach to environmental impacts gave the federal government and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority the scientific confidence they needed to approve the project subject to 142 conditions.
‘Maintaining the outstanding universal value of the Great Barrier Reef was the centrepiece of the assessment process, which has set a world class benchmark for marine precinct management.’
Port-related activities along the 2,300 kilometre-long Great Barrier Reef occupy less than one percent of the coastline and the areas set aside for sediment relocation represent less than 0.02 percent of the world heritage property area.