Message from the Chairman

image of Russell Reichelt

Our fundamental obligation is to protect the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the World Heritage Area.

We do this by striving to ensure all human uses of the Park are ecologically sustainable and that the ecosystem's natural functions, especially resilience, are maintained. The Reef is a phenomenal wonder and presenting its natural values to the world through industry and public uses is an important and positive part of this presentation.

Sustainable tourism on the Great Barrier Reef is especially important as a way of presenting the Reef to the world.

In the three decades since the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was created there have been many changes. The number of visitors to the region has steadily escalated, as has the number of people living and working along the coastal region.

We have seen waves of crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks, highly destructive cyclones and, probably the most concerning, a rise in the frequency and extent of coral bleaching caused by increasing peak summer temperatures.

We do much of our job through partnerships. We link to public communities through our local marine advisory committees, Reef Guardian programs and publications. The Queensland Government is a key partner in delivering the operational management of the Marine Park through its environment and fisheries portfolios. The head of the Queensland Premier's Department is a member of the Marine Park Authority Board.

We operate cooperatively and are closely linked with other important Australian Government departments and agencies. We are grateful for the support and advice we receive from the industry peak bodies, especially in tourism and fisheries, and the Reef Advisory Committees working on critical issues. We also value the cooperative relationships with the scientific research community.

The increasing level of use and development in and adjacent to the Marine Park and World Heritage Area are demanding special attention. Strong policies need to be put in place to ensure that natural, cultural and social values are adequately maintained while supporting sustainable use and long-term protection. In the case of conflicting uses, or restrictions on incremental change in use, we recommend limits to the uses of the Marine Park.

Key issues for the Reef now are the effects of climate change and declining water quality, commercial and recreational fishing pressures, ports and shipping and coastal development. Our challenge is to assess, advise on, and implement policies to ensure the cumulative effects of all these issues are not leading towards a long-term decline in the environmental quality of the Great Barrier Reef.

Russell Reichelt
Chairman and Chief Executive

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