SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia’s plans to protect the Great Barrier Reef are inadequate, short-sighted and will not prevent its decline, the country’s pre-eminent grouping of natural scientists said Tuesday.
The draft plan, released for consultation last month, was sup-posed to allay concerns by the United Nations about the reef’s health after UNESCO threatened to put it on the World Heritage “in danger” list.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt has said the proposal reflects an effort to balance the priorities of protecting the reef, which is tee-ming with marine life, and long-term sustainable development.
But the Australian Academy of Science warned that the plan ignored the impact of climate change and failed to address pro-blems with poor water quality, coastal development and fishing.
“The science is clear, the reef is degraded and its condition is worsening. This is a plan that won’t restore the reef, it won’t even maintain it in its already di-minished state,” academy fellow Terry Hughes said.
“The plan also seems overly focused on the short-term task of addressing UNESCO’s concerns about the reef’s World Heritage Listing, rather than the longer-term challenges of restoring the values of the reef.”
Hughes said while the plan identified targets for reducing harmful agricultural run-off, any improvements would likely be lost in the unprecedented amount of dredging for coal ports and the Queensland state government’s plans to double agricultural pro-duction by 2040.