The GBR streaches over 1500km along the Queensland coast. Photo courtesy of The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
Premier Anna Bligh on Friday 24th October addressed a summit of scientists and stakeholders working to help save the one of the world’s natural wonders – the Great Barrier Reef.
Ms Bligh said the joint Federal-State Government Great Barrier Reef Water Quality Summit at Parliament House had brought together more than 100 experts on the marine ecosystem.
'We need tougher action and a renewed sense of urgency,' Ms Bligh said.
'The Great Barrier Reef is a precious world heritage ecosystem and our number one tourism icon.
'Backpackers, tourists and honeymooners travel from all around Australia and the world to experience its beauty and wonder.
'Sadly our children and grandchildren may not have that opportunity because the Reef is in critical danger.
'Monitoring shows sediment and phosphorous discharge levels are four times higher than they were prior to European settlement. Nitrogen discharge is five times higher.'
Ms Bligh said in 2003 the State Government launched a 10 year Reef Water Quality Action Plan with the Federal Government.
'Since the launch of the Plan our Government has invested about $25 million a year in protecting and managing reef catchments,' she said.
'Work done to date as part of the Plan includes helping farmers improve land management practices and targeting diffuse pollution from broadscale land use.
'While some good work is being done, it is clearly not enough.
'The science is telling us the current management interventions are not solving the problem.
'The science cannot be ignored and new action will be needed. That means moving from a voluntary regulated system and making the financial commitment needed to make it work.
'The purpose of today’s Summit is to bring together the best minds and science to discuss the best way forward and this will help determine funding priorities and action areas for our Government.'
The Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation, Mr Andrew McNamara, said recent reports – including the 2007 Water Quality Report and an independent Scientific Consensus Statement - had confirmed the Great Barrier Reef was in grave danger from contamination and this exposed it to grave danger from climate change.
'Since 2003 pressures on the reef have increased. Now we have the looming threat of climate change which will cause coral bleaching and ocean acidification,' Mr McNamara said.
'The is a vast body of science telling us that the Reef is in trouble and under threat`.
'We need to act to protect this precious resource for future generations.'