Great Barrier Reef may figure in Unesco’s Red List

Sydney, Dec 2 (IANS) The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral system off the coast of Australia, is at a high risk of being included in Unesco’s ‘World Heritage in Danger’ list, an official said on Friday.

Queensland Minister for Environment and Heritage Steven Miles told ABC news that the latest case of coral bleaching has increased the likelihood that Unesco will include the Reef on its Red List.

The current bleaching was the worst recorded on the Reef caused by record high water temperatures, Efe news reported.

The Australia government had sent the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation its Reef 2050 Plan, a document that outlines management measures for the next 35 years in those areas.

It was approved in 2015 to prevent the Great Barrier from being declared in danger.

The report noted that 32 of the 151 actions planned in the first five years were completed, focusing on managing the impact from ports and dredging, Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said in a statement.

However, since then there was catastrophic bleaching event, as well as the Queensland’s Parliament failed to pass the land clearing laws.

“These two things together increased the risk there will be that level of attention,” Miles told ABC.

Bleaching has killed 67 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and experts estimate that it would take at least 10 to 15 years for the coral in the northernmost, the most affected area, to recover.

The Australian World Wildlife Fund (WWF) questioned the progress made in the government’s report and denounced the failure to comply with measures to improve water quality, such as the regulation of land clearing.

Th health of the Great Barrier Reef, home to hundreds of types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and some 4,000 types of molluscs, began deteriorating in the 1990s.

It was due to the warming of sea water and an increase in its acidity through the increased presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

–IANS

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