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We all know the Great Barrier Reef is in danger – the UN has just confirmed it. Again

Jon C. Day writes in The Conversation (29.11.22) about the latest UN survey of the Great Barrier Reef’s health, noting that Environment ministers from both sides of politics have been determined not to see the Barrier Reef listed as ‘in danger’.

‘You might be forgiven for thinking it’s Groundhog Day reading headlines about the Great Barrier Reef potentially being listed on the World Heritage “in danger” list. After all, there have been similar calls in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2017.

‘Successive federal governments have lobbied hard to keep the largest coral reef in the world off the high-profile list kept by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

‘Only last year, former environment minister Sussan Ley jetted around the world in a successful effort to stave off the inevitable, pointing to hundreds of millions of dollars spent on issues such as water quality. The new minister, Tanya Plibersek, also wants to avoid having the reef “singled out” in this way.

‘The question is, what does in-danger mean? Everyone knows the reef is in trouble. An in-danger listing is not a sanction or punishment. Rather, it’s a call to the international community that a World Heritage property is under threat, requiring actions to protect it for future generations. In-danger listing is not permanent, nor does it mean the Reef will be permanently removed from the World Heritage list.

‘The reef faces a multitude of threats. The most significant threats are coral bleaching worsened by climate change, poor water quality from land-based runoff, and unsustainable fishing and coastal development. We already have regulations to tackle many of them – but we need more effective enforcement to ensure compliance.’

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