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Great Barrier Reef scores D for health for fifth year in a row

Michael Slezak reports in The Guardian (20.10.16) on the release of the annual Great Barrier Reef Report Card, which again lists the overall health of the Reef as ‘poor’ amid calls for more government funding and action to preserve the Reef’s World Heritage Area status.

‘The Great Barrier Reef has been given a D on a report card for its overall health by the federal and Queensland governments for the fifth year in a row.

‘The results of the annual report card were based on data collected before this year’s climate change-induced bleaching event that killed about a fifth of the reef’s coral, suggesting next year’s results will be even worse.

‘The report card measures the progress towards water pollution targets, as well as the overall health of the Great Barrier Reef’s ecosystems, including coral and seagrass.

‘Combining all the measurements, the reef was rated D or “poor”. Many of the individual assessments of progress towards water-quality targets showed very slow progress.

‘The government has a target to reduce inorganic nitrogen flowing into the Great Barrier Reef – mostly from sugar-cane fertilisation – by 50%. The report card rated progress towards that target with an E or “very poor”, finding it had only been reduced by 18.1%.

‘Progress towards improving sugar-cane farming and grazing practices in Great Barrier Reef catchments was rated “poor”, as was progress towards sediment and pesticide targets.’

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