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Great Barrier Reef Under Threat? (VIDEO)

Great Barrier Reef Under Threat? (VIDEO)

United Nations officials are in Australia seeking answers on possible threats to the world heritage Great Barrier Reef from local development.

The UNESCO team is looking at whether new ports and shipping development for the Australian mining boom can be done without damaging the delicate ecosystem.

The UNESCO investigation follows a report, prepared by John Tanzer, ex-CEO of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), which claimed that a coal and gas boom are threatening the Reef’s heritage title.

Australian Wilderness Society spokesman Gavan McFadzean says greater controls on mining and port developments are needed.

“In particular, the far northern section – north of Cairns, where we’ve got the opportunity to get it right because there’s not the development hubs there at the moment, but they’re planned to be,” he said.

“With the far northern section of the Great Barrier Reef, we’ve got the opportunity to maintain at least one part of the Great Barrier Reef in absolute mint condition.

“The key threat that’s emerging right now is a very significant mining boom-driven port infrastructure, increased shipping through the Great Barrier Reef, the impact of the mining boom.

“In particular the coal mining boom on the Great Barrier Reef and the need for the strategic assessment to bring that mining boom development under control.”

Last year, a Chinese ship damaged reefs and leaked oil after grounding. Dredging by mining companies has come under attack for their impact on fish. And a first report card on water quality in the Great Barrier Reef has found pesticides used in agriculture are causing significant problems for the reef, such as destroying sea-grass beds.

Local tourism operators are warning that over-confidence and apathy could cost the Great Barrier Reef its ranking as a ‘natural wonder of the world.’

Watch ABC Australia report on how mining development is causing concern:

Related stories:

Oceans on Acid: Oceans Worst in 300 Years

Always More Fish in the Sea? Not Without Protection

10 Marine Species on the Brink of Mass Extinction Due to Ocean Acidification

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Picture by Electric Images

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61 comments

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9:26AM PDT on Mar 23, 2012

A major incident is rare, very rare, but not impossible. And it only takes one to destroy what little equilibrium they have left of the Great Barrier Reef, that's already as fragile as it is.

7:44AM PDT on Mar 22, 2012

I saw a programe on this recently. Basically parts of the great barrrier reef are dying because of the waste pumped into the sea due to big business operating on the shores. Thsi is killing what is called the nursery areas of the inner shallow part of the reef so the baby fish can not survive and grow as they needed those nursery areas to hide and survive.. The coral and other sea vegetation is dead and this is impacting the rest of the reef. Very sad as it is so beautiful and unique.

12:01PM PDT on Mar 20, 2012

Thank you for this information!

7:50AM PDT on Mar 20, 2012

Enhanced Geothermal Systems can make good use of as much CO2 as their hydraulic/heat-transfer fluid as we would need to sequester to mitigate global warming IF and ONLY IF we can manage to raise somewhere between $1 billion and $2 billion to subsidize the engineering costs to get EGSs cost-competitive with coal which includes raising the cost to burn coal up to the 7 cents/ kilowatt-hour EGS electricity will still cost even once it is technologically mature AND also start pulling some CO2 out of the air into pressurized tanks to stuff into the EGSs.

8:39PM PDT on Mar 19, 2012

I JUST sent a letter to my reps because of a Surfrider Foundation action and then saw this article. What I wrote applies here as well. I hope it helps motivate more of us to write or petition or campaign to save.our oceans.

I grew up spending almost 2 months of every school vacation on the North Carolina coast. I have also been blessed to visit South Carolina, Virginia, and Florida beaches. I have pictures with my family with me as young as 3, on a beach!
I mention this because it both saddens and disgusts me that our beaches and in turn our oceans, are being destroyed.
I know things are bad economically and I get why things have been cut. I "rob Peter to pay Paul", far too often myself.
But our beaches are more than just a tourism moneymaker although we will lose that money as well if the beaches are constantly deemed unsafe or unfit for use. The oceans and the beaches they come upon are the very life of our planet. We ruin them to our peril. It's NOT hyperbole nor oversimplification.
PLEASE do all that you can to save our beaches and the oceans!

9:45AM PDT on Mar 19, 2012

ty

11:19PM PDT on Mar 18, 2012

thanks noted we have been signing the petitions some results should come out

8:35PM PDT on Mar 18, 2012

thanks

8:27PM PDT on Mar 18, 2012

We need to move away from coal use in coal-fired power plants, for example.

8:26PM PDT on Mar 18, 2012

I agree with Hannah's comment that we humans need to change of way of living. We need to adopt an environmentally sustainable way of life, one that avoids large amounts of fossil fuel use and mining.

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Kathleen J. Kathleen is currently the Activism Coordinator at Care2. more
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