Many Hail Ruling, But Scientists Perplexed
UNESCO said The Great Barrier Reef is “not in danger” anymore, garnering different reactions from the Australian government and reef scientists.
At the annual meeting in Poland, the World Heritage Committee omitted the Great Barrier Reef from the “List of World Heritage in Danger.” The move was commended and considered by the Australian government as a “big win.”
“The announcement overnight from the World Heritage Committee is a big win for Australia and a big win for the Turnbull government,” Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said, according to Australian state broadcaster ABC.
The Great Barrier Reef is known for its large coral structure. It’s home to 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish, and 4,000 types of mollusk.
Reef Scientists Not Convinced By Ruling
However, reef scientists are saying otherwise. They rallied, saying that 50 per cent of the reef is in massive decline.
Associate Professor Dr James Watson from the University of Queensland’s School of Environmental Sciences told Hack that celebrating the decision was like “celebrating being only the second dunce in the class.”
“It’s all behind closed doors, we don’t really know how voting occurs,” he said.
In addition, Dr Watson stressed the ruling may not be based on science.
“If it was based on the science it’s pretty clear the Great Barrier Reef is in danger,” Dr Watson added.
Aside from that, David Booth, Professor of Marine Ecology at University of Technology Sydney, asserted that the decision by UNESCO is “perplexing” as well.
Booth said, “The Great Barrier reef is under extreme threat from climate change, coal development, overfishing and influx of nutrients and the lack of UNESCO recognition of the danger it is in is perplexing.”
More To Be Done
Anna Marsden, managing director of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation said that the decision was “welcome.” However, the present state of the reef cannot be ignored and stressed the need to speed up efforts to save the save the reef from demise.
“We welcome this decision from UNESCO which recognizes much is being done to reduce pressures on the Great Barrier Reef – however with so much to lose, more needs to be done,” she said.
Marsden added, “It is clear everyone must step up and do more to protect our global treasure.”
The Great Barrier Reef is located off the coast of Queensland in northeastern Australia.
Great Barrier Reef is Victim of Climate Change
Scientists say the Great Barrier Reef is a victim of rising ocean temperatures which have caused coral bleaching.
More than two-thirds of the coral in the reef is experiencing “shocking” amounts of bleaching, aerial surveys released in April revealed. Massive bleaching events in 2016 and 2017 have devastated a 1,500 km (900 miles) stretch of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.