The Great Barrier Reef could be stripped of its world
heritage status within months if action isn't taken to better
protect the natural icon from coal and gas developments,
environment groups say.
A coalition of green groups today launched the Fight for the
Reef campaign in Canberra, warning state and federal
politicians were putting the reef's international reputation
Last year UNESCO was "sufficiently concerned" enough by
proposed developments along the Queensland coast it sent a
mission to Australia to investigate, the campaign's director
Felicity Wishart said.
It made a number of recommendations to the commonwealth and
Queensland governments about how to proceed in the best
interests of the reef.
The global heritage body could place the reef - the world's
longest coral reef system - on the "world heritage in danger"
list if it doesn't receive an adequate response by February.
Ms Wishart said such action would be an international
embarrassment that threatened both the reef ecosystem and the
$6 billion tourism industry it supports.
"The reef has an international reputation, it is loved
globally," she told AAP.
"That's a really alarming international black mark that we
could be tracking towards if we don't lift our game."
She said the campaign, formed by the Australian Marine
Conservation Society and the World Wildlife Fund, had written
to all the major parties in a bid to get the reef on the 2013
At the centre of their concerns are 45 major industrial
developments proposed for the coast, including large-scale
coal and gas projects that would boost shipping over the
Currently, around 4000 ships make "port calls" through the
reef every year, but that number could skyrocket to 7000 if
the proposals go ahead unchallenged, the campaign group
The main concern is that the government, which has a "proud
track record" of defending the reef, wasn't now taking this
issue seriously, Ms Wishart said.
"We're calling on all sides of politics to step up and commit
to greater protection for what is the most significant
natural icon that Australia has," she said.
"This is something that has to be beyond politics."
The Great Barrier Reef was granted world heritage status in
1981, but has since faced numerous threats from coral
bleaching to cyclones, runoff, Crown-of-thorns starfish and