Australia Launches Plan To Save Great Barrier Reef

By @ibtimesau on
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IN PHOTO: A tourist swims on the Great Barrier Reef in this undated file picture. Fishing will be banned from about one third of the Australian reef under a draft rescue plan unveiled by the Australian government May 30. The coral reef, which is one of Australia's most popular tourist attractions, is under threat from record temperatures, over-fishing and pollution. EDITORIAL USE ONLY REUTERS/HO/Great Barrier Reef National Park Authority REUTERS/HO/Great Barrier Reef National Park Authority

Australia has launched a 35-year plan that will save the famed Great Barrier Reef from further destruction, otherwise it risks losing its World Heritage status afforded by the United Nations.

Saying the protection of the reef was a priority for his conservative government, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the long-term orders for a complete and permanent ban on the dumping of capital dredge material in the area. The government also vowed to improve water quality and marine life populations by adhering to set targets. The plan will also deter or limit expansion plans on ports to four sites. Targets for reducing sediment, nutrient and pesticide contamination will likewise be lined up. The government pledged to allow AU$100 million (US$77.76 million) for the undertaking.

The launch of the “blueprint” plan was in response to the warnings declared by scientists, environmentalists as well as the United Nations that the tourism spot, spanning 2300-kilometre stretch of coral reef and natural habitat, will be listed “endangered” due to poor water quality and the loss of coral. The latter had been results of extreme weather and pollution in recent years.

“At the highest level, this is a subject where Australia is telling our international partners, Australia is telling the international agencies, that we are utterly committed as an entire nation to the protection of the Great Barrier Reef, which is one of the natural wonders of the world,” Mr Abbott said from Hamilton Island, off tropical Queensland state. The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system made up of more than 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands. It is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland. It is also home to a wide variety of species, including minuscule organisms, to fish, whales and birds, among others.

In 1981, the U.N. listed is as World Heritage property. But the international body has threatened to put the reef on the list of at-risk sites when it meets in June if Australia continues to disregard its fragile ecosystem. The reef has lost about half its coral cover over the past 30 years, according to Australia’s Institute of Marine Science.

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