As the sea level rose further still, most of the continental islands were submerged. The reef is a very popular destination for tourists, especially in the Whitsunday Islands and Cairns regions. According to scientists, 50 percent of the Great Barrier Reef is experiencing massive destruction. [46][47] Close to 5,000 species of mollusc have been recorded on the reef, including the giant clam and various nudibranchs and cone snails. Responsibility for implementing the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan is shared by all levels of government working together with agriculture, industry, urban development and construction, regional natural resource management, Traditional Owners, conservation and community stakeholders. [42] At least seven species of frog inhabit the islands. At the centre of this new investment is a $444 million partnership between the Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. [55], The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority considers the greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef to be climate change, causing ocean warming which increases coral bleaching. [39] Most nesting sites are on islands in the northern and southern regions of the Great Barrier Reef, with 1.4 to 1.7 million birds using the sites to breed. In 2006, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 was reviewed and a series of measures proposed to strengthen the legal, governance and policy frameworks relating to the management and long-term protection of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The plan specifically targets nutrients, pesticides and sediment that make their way into the reef as a result of agricultural activities. [115], Due to its vast biodiversity, warm clear waters and accessibility from the tourist boats called "live aboards", the reef is a very popular destination, especially for scuba divers. A daily fee is levied that goes towards research of the Great Barrier Reef. These guidelines are nationally recognised and implemented at the local level based on the Australian policy for implementation outlined in the "Goals and Principles for the Establishment of the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas in Commonwealth Waters". Crescentic reefs are also found in the far north of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and in the Swain Reefs (20–22 degrees south). After this, a stakeholder working group was formed that worked between several groups as well as the Australian and Queensland governments to update reef goals and objectives. [101] The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park does not include the entire Great Barrier Reef Province. RRAP involves government, scientific institutions, industry and the non-government sector working in partnership to develop solutions that put the Great Barrier Reef at the cutting edge of global efforts to help coral reefs adapt to climate change. [citation needed], The fishing industry in the Great Barrier Reef, controlled by the Queensland Government, is worth A$1 billion annually. Planar reefs are found in the northern and southern parts, near Cape York Peninsula, Princess Charlotte Bay, and Cairns. Lagoonal reefs are found in the southern Great Barrier Reef, and further north, off the coast of Princess Charlotte Bay. A study showed that a doubling of the chlorophyll in the water leads to a tenfold increase in the crown-of-thorns starfish larvae's survival rate. The Reefocus summit in 2008, which is also detailed in the report, came to similar conclusions. A body of new measures was implemented to protect the reef during 2007 - principally via the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Amendment Act 2007. The Report Card shows how we are progressing towards achieving the finer-scale water quality targets, including reducing primary pollutants (nutrients, fine sediments and pesticides), for the 35 major river basins that flow into the Great Barrier Reef. [38][39][40] More than 1,500 fish species live on the reef, including the clownfish, red bass, red-throat emperor, and several species of snapper and coral trout. [76] As of the middle of 2004, approximately one-third of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is protected from species removal of any kind, including fishing, without written permission. [24]:185, Climate change, pollution, crown-of-thorns starfish and fishing are the primary threats to the health of this reef system. [116] Many cities along the Queensland coast offer daily boat trips. [59] As global warming continues, corals will not be able to keep up with increasing ocean temperatures. [4][5] The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia. As part of the Australian Government's response to the 2012 decision of the World Heritage Committee regarding the ongoing protection and management of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage property, the Australian Government commissioned an Independent Review of the Port of Gladstone. The launch follows a $6 million feasibility study by a consortium of government, university and non-government partners, led by the Australian Institute of Marine Science. Also quantitative targets have been made to critically assess whether targets are being met. John Gorton Building Read on for more detail and tips from our experts in our guide to the Great Barrier Reef. These forms of pollution have made the reef less resilient to climate change. According to corresponding approval documents, the process will create around 3 million cubic metres of dredged seabed that will be dumped within the Great Barrier Reef marine park area. Potential significant harms have been identified in relation to dredge spoil and the process of churning up the sea floor in the area and exposing it to air: firstly, new research shows the finer particles of dredge spoil can cloud the water and block sunlight, thereby starving sea grass and coral up to distances of 80 km away from the point of origin due to the actions of wind and currents. We have exceeded our Cape York sediment and particulate nutrient targets by almost 100%. When the plan was introduced in October 2003, it originally contained 65 actions built on previous legislation. [105], In July 2004, a new zoning plan took effect for the entire Marine Park, and has been widely acclaimed as a new global benchmark for marine ecosystem conservation. [15] In October 2016, Outside published an obituary for the reef;[16] the article was criticized for being premature and hindering efforts to bolster the resilience of the reef. Solutions have been suggested to siphon bird waste into gutters connecting to tanks helping lower runoff that causes coral disease. The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system[1][2] composed of over 2,900 individual reefs[3] and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometres (1,400 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres (133,000 sq mi). In 2009, the plan was updated. Find out what the unmissable highlights are when visiting Australia's Great Barrier Reef, with information on individual reefs and islands, small ship cruises, travel practicalities and lots more. On Thursday 16 April Minister Ley and Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef Warren Entsch MP, launched the research and development phase of the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (RRAP). The Australian Government has committed over $700 million to the Reef Trust to address key threats to the reef. [56][57] Mass coral bleaching events due to marine heatwaves occurred in the summers of 1998, 2002, 2006, 2016, 2017 and 2020[58][11][59] and coral bleaching is expected to become an annual occurrence. The second step is to identify marine reserves (protected areas or marine parks) to be added to Australia's National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas. [121] Glass-bottomed boats and underwater observatories are also popular, as are helicopter flights. In response to this report, in 2003, the Australian and Queensland governments launched a joint initiative to improve the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef. [28] The Australian Institute of Marine Science agrees, placing the beginning of the growth of the current reef at the time of the Last Glacial Maximum. [24]:133 The most common genera of seagrasses are Halophila and Halodule. On 29 April 2018 the Australian Government announced a $500 million boost for Reef protection – the Australian Government’s largest ever single investment in reef protection. [41] Seventeen species of sea snake live on the Great Barrier Reef in warm waters up to 50 metres (160 ft) deep and are more common in the southern than in the northern section. Reefs in the inner Great Barrier Reef spawn during the week after the full moon in October, while the outer reefs spawn in November and December. [18] The percentage of baby corals being born on the Great Barrier Reef dropped drastically in 2018 and scientists are describing it as the early stage of a "huge natural selection event unfolding". A kaleidoscope of color, the Great Barrier Reef is a natural wonder. [35][36], The Great Barrier Reef supports an extraordinary diversity of life, including many vulnerable or endangered species, some of which may be endemic to the reef system. The outer part of the Great Barrier Reef is favoured for such activities, due to water quality. [39] The majority of these spawn gametes, breeding in mass spawning events that are triggered by the rising sea temperatures of spring and summer, the lunar cycle, and the diurnal cycle. These have been narrowed down to 43 concepts suitable for further research and development, to see if they can be successfully deployed at-scale. [96], In 1768 Louis de Bougainville found the reef during an exploratory mission, but did not claim the area for the French. Responsibility for establishing, planning and running the marine park rests with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, a Commonwealth Government agency. [6] This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps. A taskforce of scientists was also created to assess the impact of different parts of the plan on the quality of water flowing into the coral reefs. [30], The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area has been divided into 70 bioregions,[31] of which 30 are reef bioregions. The Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan (formerly the Great Barrier Reef Water Quality Protection Plan 2013) has an expanded scope and updated targets that provide a new level of specificity. [83][84] Environmentalists and scientists say that this program harms the marine ecosystem; they also say it is "outdated, cruel and ineffective". The rate of loss of natural wetlands has slowed, with less than 0.1% loss, or 556 hectares, between 2013 and 2017. [24], The remains of an ancient barrier reef similar to the Great Barrier Reef can be found in The Kimberley, Western Australia. [98] One of the most famous wrecks was HMS Pandora, which sank on 29 August 1791, killing 35 men. Videos - Protecting the Great Barrier Reef. [66], Fertilizers also increase the amount of phytoplankton available for the crown-of-thorns starfish larvae to consume. [47] Four hundred coral species, both hard corals and soft corals inhabit the reef. Although the route through the Great Barrier Reef is not easy, reef pilots consider it safer than outside the reef in the event of mechanical failure, since a ship can sit safely while being repaired. Some examples of the water quality goals outlined by this plan are that by 2013, there will be a 50% reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus loads at the end of catchments and that by 2020, there will be a reduction in sediment load by 20%. [60] In 2020, a study has found that Australia's Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half of its corals since 1995 due to warmer seas driven by climate change. [10] According to a study published in October 2012 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the reef has lost more than half its coral cover since 1985, a finding reaffirmed by a 2020 study which found over half of the reef's coral cover to have been lost between 1995 and 2017, with the effects of a widespread 2020 bleaching event not yet quantified. Sea level here has not risen significantly in the last 6,000 years. Tourism is an important economic activity for the region, generating over AUD$3 billion per year. The Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan is the overarching framework for protecting and managing the Great Barrier Reef from 2015 to 2050. Environmental Management of Torres Strait: a Marine Geologist’s Perspective, in: Gostin, V.A. We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (a State Government agency) is responsible for the day-to-day management of the marine park - the field operations - or `wet end' of marine park management. [24]:19 Some of these became high islands. As a deepwater port that has been in operation for nearly 30 years, Abbot Point is better placed than other ports along the Great Barrier Reef coastline to undertake expansion as the capital and maintenance dredging required will be significantly less than what would be required in other areas. Over 90% of this pollution comes from farm runoff. Great Barrier Reef islands biosecurity Changes in climate caused by tropical storms have been a big issue, as the coral and the wildlife can only thrive in certain conditions, and the storms themselves have caused vast amounts of damages. The establishment of an independent dredging and disposal technical advice panel and a management response group, to include community representatives. [87] Also, Queensland's "shark control" program has also killed many other animals (such as dolphins and turtles) — the program killed 84,000 marine animals from 1962 to 2015, including in the Great Barrier Reef. Additional actions to control crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks and reduce the incidence of new outbreaks through partnerships between managing agencies and marine tourism operators are being funded under the Reef Trust Great Barrier Reef Foundation Partnership. [66], Pesticides used in farming are made up of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic and other toxins are released into the wider environment due to erosion of farm soil, which has a detrimental effect on the coral. 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