Why in news?
- Australia has downgraded the outlook for the Great Barrier Reef to ‘very poor’ for the first time.
About the reef:
- The Great Barrier Reef, located off Australia’s East Coast, is the largest coral reef in the world.
- Stretching over 2,300km, the reef has been designated a World Heritage site since 1981 for its “enormous scientific and intrinsic importance”.
- The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia.
- It can be seen from outer space and is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms.
What does the report say?
- The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) produces a report on the state of the World Heritage site every five years.
- In the first report in 2009 scientists said the reef was “at a crossroads between a positive, well-managed future and a less certain one”.
- The second report in 2014 ranked it as “an icon under pressure” with efforts needed to fight key threats.
- Rising sea temperatures caused “mass bleaching events” in 2016 and 2017 that wiped out coral and destroyed habitats for other sea life.
- According to the latest report, “threats to the reef are multiple, cumulative and increasing”.
- The warming seas, agricultural run-off and coral-eating crown of thorns starfish are the threats adding to the burden