The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has supported Environment Minister Sussan Ley’s appraisal that the reef is “good” and has “a vibrant future”.
A Senate estimates committee hearing on Monday heard a downgrading of the reef condition from poor to very poor was a long-term forecast based on no action being taken on climate change. GBRMPA chief executive Joshua Thomas said the outlook report was an assessment of the likely condition of the reef if a series of issues were not addressed. These included reducing global greenhouse gas emissions along with improving reef water quality, better marine park compliance, controlling crown of thorns starfish and reducing marine debris.
“The reef is a vast estate and many areas remain vibrant and ecologically robust,” he said. “It continues to be an extraordinary experience for visitors to the region, supporting beautiful corals and abundant marine life.”
After her first visit to the reef as minister, Ms Ley said: “It gives me great heart and hope that the future of this magnificent part of the world is a good one.”
She said at the time the reef was not dead, was not dying and not even on life support. “Today we saw coral that was struggling but we also saw coral that was coming back, that was growing, that was vibrant.”
Mr Thomas said Ms Ley had been “referring to the fact there are many areas of the reef that remain vibrant and worth visiting and we support that statement”.
“It is also true that the reef over the past five years has been subjected to unprecedented changes, including those bleaching events in 2016-17,” he added.
The authority’s chief scientist, David Wachenfeld, told Senate estimates the outlook report was evidence-based.