Protecting Biodiversity Brochure 2005

In recent years there have been numerous instances where the Australian Government and/or the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has acted quickly and decisively to address threats to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA).

[Home] [Great Barrier Reef Marine Park] [Adaptively Managing the Great Barrier Reef] [Fisheries] [Tourism and Recreation] [Research] [Crown of Thorns Starfish] [Global Climate Change] [Community Partnerships] [Compliance and Enforcement] [Shipping and Oil Spills] [Indigenous Values] [Conservation and Heritage Values] [Water Quality] [Summary of the Integrated Management Approach] [Other Management Initiatives] [The Importance of the Great Barrier Reef]

image001The Great Barrier Reef is one of the richest and most diverse natural areas on Earth.  To protect this magnificent area for all to enjoy and to ensure its sustainable use, in 1975 the Australian Government enacted the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act.  The Act established the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and provided for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

As the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef is a critical global resource.

Although coral reefs initially made the area famous, it comprises an extraordinary variety of other plant and animal communities, habitats and their associated ecological processes, ranging from fringing coastal reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, sandy & coral cays, sandy or muddy bottom communities, continental islands, and deep open ocean areas. 

The Great Barrier Reef was declared a World Heritage Area in 1981, internationally recognised for its outstanding natural values, and only one of a few ever nominated for all four natural criteria. It was also the first time a listing went beyond the bounds of individual sites and embraced a whole region.  Whilst coral reef, mangrove and seagrass habitats occur elsewhere on the planet, no other World Heritage Area contains such biological diversity.

The GBRMPA has been managing the Great Barrier Reef for thirty years.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (the Marine Park) is unique in its size, covering approximately 345,000 square kilometres, and extending more than 2,300km along the Queensland coast.  It is the largest marine protected area in the world (equivalent to the area of Japan).  The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area extends to the low water mark on the mainland coast, and includes all islands and all waters within the outer boundaries of the Marine Park

The Marine Park is a multiple-use marine park, allowing a range of ecologically sustainable uses with an overriding conservation objective; this means most of the entire Marine Park is protected, but zoned to allow most reasonable activities and to minimise impacts.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park protects biological diversity at ecosystem, community, species and genetic levels.  Today it is a comparatively pristine area with low human pressure compared to other coral reef systems in the world. 

Today the Great Barrier Reef contributes $5.8 billion annually to the Australian economy.  This comprises $5.1 billion from the tourism industry, $610 million from recreational activity and $149 million from commercial fishing. This economic activity generates about 63,000 jobs, mostly in the tourism industry, which brings over 1.9 million visitors to the Reef each year. About 69,000 recreational vessels are registered in the area next to the Reef.

Integrated management for the Great Barrier Reef is provided by the Australian and Queensland Governments, through agencies including the GBRMPA, Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries.

Adaptively Managing The Great Barrier Reef

The Marine Park was the world’s first declaration of a large-scale marine protected area based on an ecosystem approach to management.  This bold initiative in 1975 included the banning of oil drilling and exploration.  The  prohibition on mining was extended to the entire Great Barrier Reef region through Regulations.

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Zoning was first implemented in the Marine Park in the mid 1980s, allowing for the management of all reasonable activities while separating conflicting uses.  It also facilitates integrated coastal zone management by complementing many island and mainland national parks with adjacent Marine National Park Zones.  The early public consultation process required by legislation set new standards, with mandatory two-phase consultation and active dissemination of information.  The GBRMPA has continued to improve those standards, culminating in the enormous effort associated with the Representative Areas Programme as part of the recent rezoning.  This included the most comprehensive process of community involvement and participatory planning for any environmental issue in Australia’s history, including over 31,500 public submissions.  This is an excellent example of continuous organisational learning, which is fundamental to adaptive management.

In July 2004, a new zoning plan was bought into effect for the entire Marine Park, and has been widely acclaimed as a new global benchmark for the conservation of marine ecosystems. While protection across the Marine Park was improved, the highly protected zones increased from 4.5% to over 33% (ie. >115,000km2) within the world’s largest network of highly protected areas.  It embraces the concept of enhancing the resilience of the natural system to cope with global scale change, and is a significant response to issues for coral reef management such as increasing sea temperatures and sea level rises. The new zoning network provides for both conservation and the sustainable use of marine resources.  In November 2004, the State of Queensland ‘mirrored’ the new zoning in most of the adjoining state waters providing for complimentary zoning in virtually all the World Heritage Area.

The Australian Government and the GBRMPA continue to receive the highest praise from the global community and numerous awards for this innovative approach. 

The 25-Year Strategic Plan for the World Heritage Area set a new benchmark in wide-ranging stakeholder participation in decision-making when it was released in 1994.  The Strategic plan set the direction for management, including managing land-based impacts on water quality, a representative approach to zoning, and enhanced stakeholder engagement.

The Reef Water Quality Protection Plan released in 2003 articulated both the Australian and Queensland Governments’ commitment to reversing the decline in water quality entering the Great Barrier Reef. It contained clear messages to all landholders that they have responsibility for the downstream impact of their activities, and provides a good example of integrated coastal zone management.

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Whilst an extensive programme of monitoring already exists in the Marine Park, long-term initiatives such as water quality monitoring and monitoring of the operation of the new Zoning Plan are also required.

The Australian Government and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority recognise that continuous improvement is essential to the future of the Great Barrier Reef, and many specific aspects of adaptive management continue to set a high standard for the conservation and management of marine ecosystems.

Fisheries

The Queensland Government is responsible for fisheries management in the Marine Park.  The GBRMPA, however, works to minimise the impacts of fishing through negotiation with the Queensland Government and key stakeholders.  These policies, plans and regulations are designed to deliver ecologically sustainable fisheries, not only in terms of target species, but also for non-target species and the ecosystems on which they depend. 

image008A revised East Coast Trawl Management Plan came into effect on 1 January 2001; this was a significant improvement over the previous management arrangements.  It capped fishing effort at the 1996 level, introduced a tradeable effort quota system, and closing an additional 96,000 km2 of the Marine Park to prevent further expansion of the fishery.  Restrictions were also introduced at the end of 2001 that limited the take of bycatch species.  Bycatch reduction devices and turtle excluder devices have been mandatory in trawl nets within the Marine Park since 1 January 2002.  Through the combination of structural adjustment schemes, penalty units and licence surrenders, there has been a 37% reduction in trawl effort from the 1996 level, and the number of vessels has dropped from 850 in the late 1990s to some 450 at present.

Since November 2004, fisheries wishing to export product overseas have to be strategically assessed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 against the Australian Government Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries.  Several of Queensland’s export fisheries operating in the Marine Park have undergone this assessment and have been given provisional export approval subject to meeting recommendations imposed by the Minister for the Environment and Heritage.

Vessel Monitoring Systems [satellite tracking devices] are now mandatory on some 500 commercial fishing vessels, including trawlers and fishing vessels collecting sea cucumbers and trochus.

The GBRMPA has played a key role in the development of a fisheries management plan for coral reef fish, the major elements of which came into effect on 1 July 2004. Issues addressed by the plan include the introduction of a total allowable commercial catch, management of catch and effort by commercial, recreational and charter boat fishers, greater safeguarding of the reproductive capacity of fish stocks, including three 9-day closures during the spawning season of key target species, and special measures to completely protect particular species of reef fish. A major research programme on reef line fishing, supported by the GBRMPA and conducted by the Cooperative Research Centre for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, is providing vital scientific information to guide management planning.

The removal of commercial netting latent effort in the Queensland East Coast Finfish Fishery by the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, which began in mid 2004, was strongly supported by the GBRMPA.  The fishery will now be in a much better position for the proposed review and implementation of a management plan.

The dive-based fisheries (marine aquarium fish, coral, tropical rock lobster, trochus, and sea cucumber) are unusual in that they require both a State fisheries authority and a permit from the GBRMPA to operate in the Marine Park. The GBRMPA continues to work collaboratively with the State Government, industry and other stakeholders to develop ecologically-appropriate management arrangements for the dive-based fisheries.

image010Commercial coral collection in the Marine Park is being restructured This will lead to innovative and stringent management, compliance and reporting arrangements for coral collection.

Similarly, for the multi-species sea cucumber fishery, an innovative set of management arrangements came into effect in 2004 to reduce the risk of serial localised depletion (a characteristic of sea cucumber fisheries around the world).  Compliance with the new arrangements is monitored via Vessel Monitoring Systems.

Tourism and Recreation

Tourism and recreation are the most significant uses of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and contribute valuable and vibrant elements to the Great Barrier Reef story. Most reef visitors experience the wonders of this World Heritage Area through reef tourism operators, learning first-hand about the values of this icon destination. 

The GBRMPA aims to ensure tourism and recreation opportunities in the Marine Park are of a high quality and ecologically sustainable.  This is achieved through the use of management tools such as legislation, zoning, plans of management, permits, designated anchorages, marine park infrastructure, and through a partnership approach with Marine Park users for promoting the adoption of responsible reef practices and eco-certification.

image012Tourists and reef operators contribute significant funds to the protection of the Great Barrier Reef marine Park and World Heritage values through a daily Environmental Management Charge.  The funds are used for research, education and Marine Park Management. 

All tourism activities in the Marine Park require a GBRMPA permit, and every proposed tourism program and tourist facility is assessed by the GBRMPA against a set of regulatory criteria.

In the popular destinations of the Whitsunday Islands and the Cairns area, which together cater for approximately 85% of tourism on the Reef, plans of management have been developed with the community. A plan of management also exists for the Hinchinbrook Area.

These plans of management provide for a sustainable level of tourism and recreation activity by outlining the level and extent of possible uses, as well as preserving and protecting sensitive areas and those areas of high conservation or cultural value. A ceiling is placed on the number of all-year-access tourism permits and the use of ‘settings’ ensures a diversity of experience by detailing the size of vessel and passenger group size that can be carried in each setting location.

image013Best practice tourism use of this World Heritage Area is increased through the GBRMPA’s Policyof recognising and rewarding high standard tourism operations in the Marine Park. This includes incentives, such as longer-term permits, for tourism operators who can demonstrate Marine Park and industry best-practice, and the appropriate level of certification.

Industry training courses and 'best environmental practices' have also been developed in partnership with the marine tourism industry. An online Tourism Operators Handbook simplifies and communicates essential Marine Parks’ information.

A reef-wide policy for cruise shipping has been adopted to manage cruise ship access to the GBRWHA. In addition, over 25 cruise ship anchorages have been designated across the Reef to provide safe access and reef protection, and further anchorages are proposed.

A reef-wide policy on bareboats (self-hire boats) has also been adopted and a set of industry standards is in place for the bareboat fleet in the Whitsundays (one of the largest bareboat fleets in the southern hemisphere), encouraging operators to achieve ‘best practice’ and requiring that key staff are trained and locally experienced.

The reef protection marker programme comprising of public moorings and designated ‘no-anchoring’ areas has been established to protect fringing coral reefs where recreational use is high. The focus of this programme is the Whitsundays, an area of outstanding natural beauty and increasing visitation.

A reef-wide policy on moorings is in place to encourage safe and sustainable access. Over 300 private moorings are permitted in the Cairns Planning Area and these provide site-specific operators with all year access to the Reef and a means of access without the need to anchor. 

Research

image015Having the best available information for decision-making is essential to high quality, scientifically-based management of the Marine Park.  The Authority has a strategic and coordinated approach to information acquisition, management, analysis, interpretation, dissemination and application.  A comprehensive list of the GBRMPA’s current Research Priorities is available.

Monitoring is also a fundamental component for effective management, and one of the highest levels of environmental monitoring of any World Heritage Area takes place on the Great Barrier Reef.

The majority of research is carrier out by research institutions such as the Cooperative Reef Research Centre (CRC) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and will continue through the forthcoming Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility.

Crown of Thorns Starfish

Over the last 30 years, major expenditure has been committed to research on the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) and much has been learned.  There is increasing evidence crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks are linked to an increase in the run-off of nutrients from agricultural land.

image017The GBRMPA has focussed management attention on regulating the possible human causes of the outbreaks, including water quality, supporting research into the starfish, and assisting operators in partnership with the tourism industry, through the Australian Government Natural Heritage Trust.

Crown-of-thorns starfish control at key tourism sites is being jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Queensland governments through a programme coordinated by the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators. Training tourist operators to conduct their own control efforts is an important part of this programme.

An effective and environmentally-acceptable agent for controlling crown-of-thorns starfish, a commonly available swimming pool chemical 'dry acid' (sodium bisulphate), has been identified for use in localised areas important for tourism and/or science.

Ongoing monitoring of the status of crown-of-thorns starfish populations on the Reef and any new outbreaks is carried out by the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

Global Climate Change

Global climate change is now recognised as a significant threat to the Great Barrier Reef in coming decades.  This threat has the potential to affect both the natural and extensive socio-economic values of the Great Barrier Reef, as well as the industries and local communities that depend upon it.

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To date, the GBRMPA has concentrated on maximising the resilience of the ecosystem to cope with climate change through programmes such as the new Zoning Plan and the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan.  

The GBRMPA has recently established a $2 million Climate Change Response Programme, in partnership with the Australian Greenhouse Office, to better understand and respond to climate change threats, including coral bleaching. The programme will identify strategies to protect the GBRWHA by using a combination of empirical data and scenario-based modelling approaches to increase the resilience of the ecosystem.

Community Partnerships

The GBRMPA is working to strengthen its relationship and partnership with regional communities building on the knowledge and understanding of local communities and issues developed during the 2000-2004 rezoning of the Marine Park.

In 2005, offices were established in four regional centres to facilitate more effective and efficient lines of communication to and from local communities.  The aim is to ensure that regional communities continue to be heard by the GBRMPA, continue to influence decisions, and to enhance local stewardship and compliance.

image019Stakeholder involvement in planning and management is assured through public participation in zoning, the Great Barrier Reef Consultative Committee, geographically focussed Local Marine Advisory Committees and issue-focussed Reef Advisory Committees for each of the four critical issue groups.

The Reef Advisory Committeesmeet 3-4 times a year and provide advice on new or proposed Marine Park management issues and programmes. Their membership includes industries, science, Indigenous, government and non-government organisations

The GBRMPA works in partnership with school communities as part of the Reef Guardian Schools programme.  This programme encourages teachers, students, parents and friends to become involved in protecting the environment and the Reef.   

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Compliance and Enforcement

Effective and efficient compliance and enforcement are important components of the overall management approach.  A comprehensive education and enforcement strategy has been designed to facilitate compliance through easy to understand products on the Zoning Plan, including:

  • Clear definitions that are easy to understand, comply with and enforce;
  • Coordinate-based zone boundaries with the coordinates of all no-take zones shown on detailed zoning maps; these coordinates can be identified with GPS, plotted on a chart or loaded into electronic navigation aids; and
  • Aligning many boundaries of inshore zones with identified landmarks or other features.

image023The enforcement programme has been strengthened, enabling:

  • Greater use of intelligence gathering and analysis to facilitate strategic and tactical planning of operations;
  • Greater frequency of detection and successful prosecution of offenders; and
  • Increased cooperation between all agencies resulting in improved surveillance and compliance.

Technology is also playing an increasingly important role in enforcement in the Marine Park. In addition to Vessel Monitoring Systems, high-resolution photography, night vision equipment, GPS (Global Positioning Systems) and forensic chemical analysis are also increasingly being used in surveillance and to provide evidence in prosecutions.

Shipping and Oil Spills

The GBRMPA works cooperatively in this area with such State and Commonwealth agencies as the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was declared the world’s first ‘Particular Sensitive Sea Area’ by the International Maritime Organisation in November 1990.

image024A review of Great Barrier Reef ship safety and pollution prevention measures, commissioned by the Australian Government, identified 41 recommendations designed to improve the safety of vessels and alleviate the potential for ship-sourced pollution within the Marine Park. Many of these recommendations have been implemented, with substantial progress being made in areas such as pilotage initiatives, technological advancements, ship management and emergency response.

A ship reporting system, introduced in 1997, requires all ships (greater than 50m) to report their position and course at designated points along the inner route.  The system was upgraded in 2004 to a vessel traffic system, providing ships with near real time information to aid on-board navigational decision-making.

Ships navigating the Great Barrier Reef inner shipping route now have complete Differential Global Positioning System coverage, a universal Automatic Identification System, and more accurate electronic navigation charts for the Torres Strait and Great Barrier Reef region to assist them.

Compulsory pilotage is mandatory for large vessels and specialised product carriers transiting certain declared navigationally-hazardous areas within the Marine Park.

The new Zoning Plan provides for certainty of access for shipping in the Marine Park including simplified regulations governing safety and pollution prevention response as well as the ability to declare temporary closure areas, designate places of refuge, remove wrecks, undertake salvage operations, remediation and monitoring activities, and search and rescue within the Marine Park.

Protection of the Marine Park was also strengthened through the introduction of new vessel sewage discharge regulations and increased penalties for the negligent operation of a vessel in the Marine Park.

Oil spill equipment is provided by the National Plan to Combat Pollution of the Sea by Oil and other Noxious and Hazardous Substancesto respond to major spills of up to 20 000 tonnes. The Great Barrier Reef Oil Spill Contingency Plan, the Queensland Coastal Contingency Action Plan, and the Marine Pollution Response Plan provide the framework for responses and these plans are reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

The GBRMPA continues to maintain a high level of pollution response preparedness through the training and exercising of staff in the implementation of internal response procedures.

Indigenous Values

image025In recognition of the importance of the cultural and heritage values of the Marine Park, all applications for a permit must take into regard “the need to protect the cultural and heritage values held in relation to the Marine Park by Traditional Owners and other people…”.  An internal database containing data layers on Native Title Representative Bodies, native title claims and claimant groups are used during permit assessment processes, and Native Title notification is required before a permit can be granted.

In 2004, a new approach commenced involving Indigenous communities, Traditional Owners, Native Title Representative Bodies, and government agencies all working together to develop measures relating to the traditional use of marine resources.

The Cairns, Whitsunday and Hinchinbrook Plans of Management collectively provide for 13 Indigenous tourism permits.

The GBRMPA is an active partner with the Reef Cooperative Research Centre for various Indigenous research projects.  These provide excellent examples and case studies for future cooperative management arrangements and culturally-appropriate marine research protocols. For example, in 2004, a Technical Report was released on Traditional Owners aspirations towards cooperative management of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area: Community Case Studies.

Conservation and Heritage Values

The Representative Areas Programme included a comprehensive review of the marine biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef, which was mapped into 70 bioregions.  The new Zoning Plan includes a network of highly protected areas that is representative of all 70 bioregions, with a minimum of 20% of each bioregion now contained in no-take zones.

image026Fifteen Dugong Protection Areas were established along the coast in 1998 with restricted net fishing arrangements to enhance dugong protection.  Dugong conservation initiatives in the GBRWHA are kept under ongoing review.  Protection in these, and other areas was enhanced following reviews in 1999 and 2001. 

Many significant scientific studies and reports about dugong, marine turtles and other species are funded by the GBRMPA.

Indigenous communities are working with the GBRMPA to ensure sustainable traditional use of marine resources, especially the traditional use of turtles and dugongs in the Marine Park.

A policy on whale and dolphin conservation in the Marine Park was finalised and published in 2000. Implementation is proceeding, including the establishment of a permit system and research program for the world-first ‘swimming-with-dwarf minke whale tourism industry’ and the development of Reef-wide regulations for interactions with whales and dolphins.

image027Comprehensive Reef-wide reviews and compendiums of information about whales and dolphins, marine turtles and, in general, fauna and flora of the World Heritage Area have been published. A similar compendium on dugong will be published in late 2005.

The GBRMPA plays a key role in inter-agency coordination of responses to live and carcass strandings, including their necropsy, review and dissemination of information.

A policy on the direct take of a protected species in the Marine Park was finalised and published in 2005.

Comprehensive guidelines for seabird nesting sites throughout the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area were published in 1997. 

A new Heritage Strategy is being compiled to meet the requirements of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.  This will include an assessment of Commonwealth Heritage values, and will be followed by the development of management plans for listed Commonwealth Heritage places.

Water Quality

image028Declining water quality has been identified as a threat to the values of the Great Barrier Reef.  The GBRMPA works in partnership with all levels of government, industry and the community to encourage best-practice management practices and lessen the impacts on water quality. In 2003, the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan was released which articulated both the Australian and Queensland Governments commitment to halting and reversing the decline in water quality entering the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. 

The development of the Great Barrier Reef Coastal Wetland Protection Programme will enhance the water quality of the Reef through the protection, restoration and rehabilitation of wetlands in Reef catchments.  An integrated water quality and ecosystem health monitoring programme will ensure ecosystem health (e.g. seagrass, corals and other species) is monitored in the Marine Park.

image029The engagement by the GBRMPA, of eminent Reef and Catchment researchers, led by the Cooperative Research Centre for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area will lead to the implementation of an integrated water quality and ecosystem health monitoring programme in the Marine Park. Ecosystem health (e.g. seagrass, corals and other species) will be monitored, along with indicators such as chlorophyll a (nutrients) and pesticides to ascertain and report on the water quality and ecosystem health of the Marine Park.

The GBRMPA has worked with local communities to ensure water quality objectives are reflected in the Regional Natural Resource Management Plans.  The GBRMPA is also working with local councils on the development of a Reef Guardian Council programme to recognise and support councils working to better protect the Reef.

A revised programme for the management of sewage outfalls that discharge to the Marine Park was developed in 2005.

New arrangements for the management of land-based aquaculture facilities that discharge to waterways leading to the Marine Park have been put in place along with an aquaculture management programme for in-park proposals.  Compliance audits and monitoring of Marine Park permitted aquaculture operations adjacent to the World Heritage Area have been undertaken annually since 2001.

Summary of the Integrated Management Approach

image030The inter-governmental arrangements for management of the Great Barrier Reef established since the early 1980s have overcome the complex issues of jurisdictional uncertainty between the Commonwealth and State Governments.  This level of co-operation was unprecedented in Australia and its continued survival is evidence of the value placed on the Great Barrier Reef by successive Governments.

Integrated management for the Great Barrier Reef is provided by a variety of means, including:

Other Management Initiatives

Environmental impact assessments are undertaken for all major developments within the Marine Park (e.g. marinas, pontoons, etc.). Potential environmental impacts associated with major developments in the Marine Park are controlled using impact monitoring and collaborative research programmes.

image031The GBRMPA web site is home to the State of the Great Barrier Reef Report. Since it was originally released as a book in 1998, this has been the most comprehensive and authoritative summary of the condition of the Great Barrier Reef environment, human pressures placed upon it, and management responses to those pressures.

A comprehensive list of the GBRMPA's current Research Priorities is available.

The Commonwealth Government is investing $40 million over four years into research to help protect the Great Barrier Reef and North Queensland’s rainforest through its Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility. This facility will continue and improve on work of the Cooperative Research Centre for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and Tropical Rainforest Ecology and Management. The GBRMPA was a major partner in the Reef CRC and will continue significant partnership with research through the new Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility.

image032The GBRMPA works closely with the Department of Defence to ensure Defence activities in designated training areas are conducted in a manner that minimises any environmental impacts. Activities can include amphibious troop and heavy equipment exercises, as well as controlled ordinance testing. Environmental management initiatives have included the phasing out of high explosives testing (e.g. Halifax Bay) and the cooperative development of management plans for training areas (e.g. Shoalwater Military Training Area).

In response to a request from the World Heritage Committee in 1999, GBRMPA prepared a series of reports ('Framework for Management for the GBRWHA'), addressing five priority action areas. The first six-yearly Periodic Report for the World Heritage Committee was also prepared in 2002.

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The Importance of The Great Barrier Reef

“There can be no doubt that the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park remains one of Australia’s – indeed the world’s – most important assets.”

His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery AC CVO MC (Retd), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia (15 April 2004)

“The Australian Government’s re-zoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which came into force on 1 July 2004, provides the most significant level of protection for an reef system in the world.”

The Hon. Prime Minister John Howard (4 August 2005)

“It is one of the most pleasing achievements of my tenure in the Environment and Heritage portfolio to have a zoning plan, effective July 1, that totally protects one third of this extraordinary natural asset.”

The Hon. Dr David Kemp MP, Minister for the Environment and Heritage (2 July 2004)

“These two awards are just the latest in an impressive list of awards for the Representative Areas Programme that speaks volumes for the dedication and commitment of the Authority’s staff.”

Senator The Hon. Ian Campbell, Minister for the Environment and Heritage (5 May 2005)

“This remarkable achievement is the just reward for GBRMPA’s crucial contributions to the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef through an innovative framework that, whilst allowing for reasonable human use, will still ensure the healthy survival of the coastal and marine ecosystems.”

Jane Madden, Australian Permanent Delegation to UNESCO (Paris, 6 July 2005)

“It happened with little fanfare, but at midnight last night the Great Barrier Reef became the largest protected slice of ocean on the planet.”

Dr Russell Reichelt, Director, CRC Reef Research Centre (2 July 2004)

“We must safeguard the Great Barrier Reef not only for ourselves but also for the generations to follow.”

The Catholic Bishops of Queensland, A Pastoral Letter (8 June 2004)

“The GBR is arguably the most valued part of Australia’s natural inheritance.  Its importance to life on this planet and its intrinsic value to future Australians is beyond measure.”

J.E.N. Vernon, State of the Marine Environment, Report for Australia, 2000

Last Modified: Thursday, 23 February 2006 .
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