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Water Quality Laws will give our Great Barrier Reef a cleaner future, says Australian Marine Conservation Society

September 18, 2019 Responsible Tourism No Comments Email Email

New laws being debated in Queensland Parliament today will give the Great Barrier Reef and its amazing wildlife a cleaner future, says the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

AMCS director of strategy, Imogen Zethoven said: “the new laws are the right response to the scientific consensus that agricultural runoff is damaging inshore ecosystems such as corals and seagrass meadows, habitat of threatened turtles and dugongs”.

Last month the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority downgraded our Reef’s long-term outlook to ‘very poor’ after back-to-back bleaching events, continued Crown of Thorns Starfish attacks and ongoing problems with sediment, fertiliser and pesticide runoff from farms and grazing properties.

The Queensland and Federal Governments then released the joint Reef Water Quality Report Card for 2017-2018 which gave a D (poor) score for the condition of the Reef’s inshore waters.

Zethoven said: “Over the last few years the Great Barrier Reef has had very little to celebrate, but this is progress. The Great Barrier Reef Scientific Taskforce recommended regulations across the entire Reef catchment to make a step change to improve water quality.

In 2017, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee called on the Australian Government to accelerate efforts to meet the targets of the Reef 2050, in particular regarding water quality. Next year the World Heritage Committee will again assess Australia’s performance in protecting the Reef.

Zethoven added: “To avoid an ‘in danger’ listing at next year’s World Heritage committee, both Queensland and the Commonwealth will have to show they’ve been taking action not just on water quality, but also on climate change – the biggest threat to the Reef.

“An ‘in danger’ listing would be disastrous for tourism and embarrassing for Australia, so we expect these water quality laws to be implemented immediately and for strong compliance action. We also call on both governments to urgently undertake strong climate action to give our Reef a fighting chance.”

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