Australia admits neglect of Great Barrier Reef

Posted: 10/07/2012 in all marine news

Science & Tech – 

The Australian government admits the Great Barrier Reef has been neglected for decades after a study showed it has lost more than half its coral cover in the past 27 years.

Environment Minister Tony Burke said research released Tuesday by scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the University of Wollongong should be setting off alarm bells across the country.

“I reckon the report would have sent shockwaves through a whole lot of households,” he told ABC television late Tuesday.

“We’ve all heard about damage to the reef over the years, but that 50 per cent figure, I think, rang a warning bell loud and clear for many people.”

The study said coral cover on the heritage-listed reef – the world’s largest – could halve again by 2022 if trends continued.

Intense tropical cyclones – 34 in total since 1985 – were responsible for much of the damage, accounting for 48 per cent, with outbreaks of the coral-feeding crown-of-thorns starfish linked to 42 per cent.

Two severe coral bleaching events in 1998 and 2002 due to ocean warming also had “major detrimental impacts” on the central and northern parts of the reef, the study found, putting the impact at 10 per cent.

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