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‘We can’t be passive bystanders’: Advisers call for dramatic re-think on Great Barrier Reef

Adam Morton reports in the Brisbane Times (21.5.17) on details of a new communique from the Independent Expert Panel advising the federal Environment Department on matters critical to the future of the Great Barrier Reef.

‘A handpicked expert panel advising the federal government on its plan to protect the ailing Great Barrier Reef has warned the strategy does not address the greatest threat facing the natural wonder – greenhouse gas emissions – and has called for a significant overhaul.

‘The call to re-draw the Reef 2050 Plan follows an unprecedented second straight year of mass coral bleaching linked to rising water temperatures.

‘It comes as the World Heritage Committee is expected to consider Australia’s progress in dealing with the threats facing the reef later this year. Released in March 2015, the plan was a response to concerns the committee would describe the reef’s world heritage listing as “in danger”, mainly due to development and farming practices along the Queensland coast.

‘But in a communique dated May 5, the Independent Expert Panel advising the government on the implementation of the plan says “action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must be central to the response”.

‘… Scientists estimate two-thirds of the reef’s shallow-water coral north of Cairns died last year, and two-thirds in the middle section between Cairns and Townsville have died this year. The total mortality along the length of the reef is believed to be nearly half.’

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