GREAT BARRIER REEF
// Outlook Report 2014
Commercial and non-commercial use
Outlook report 2009: Overall summary of commercial and non-commercial use
Almost all commercial and non-commercial uses of the Great Barrier Reef Region are dependent on the biodiversity and health of its ecosystem. Use occurs across the length and breadth of the ecosystem with most use and impact concentrated inshore, near developed coasts and on coral reef habitats. The current state and trends of most uses are known, with fluctuations largely determined by global factors such as fuel prices, human health issues and economic development. There are some concerns about localised impacts and effects on some species with potential flow on effects to some ecological processes. Uses of the Great Barrier Reef are economically important to regional communities and tourism is economically important nationally. They provide income to and employment for local industries and are an integral component of coastal communities. Traditional Owner aspirations are being increasingly recognised and formalised in law. However, they are also being increasingly impacted by other activities occurring in the Great Barrier Reef and along the adjacent coastal zone. Declines in many coral reef ecosystems around the world are likely to increase the commercial and noncommercial value placed on components of the Great Barrier Reef and potentially alter use patterns in the future. Overall trends of use of the Great Barrier Reef are difficult to predict because each use is shifting at different rates and in response to different drivers. The future cumulative effects of all use and the ecosystem-level impacts are poorly understood.
For thousands of years the Great Barrier Reef Region (the Region) has been an important resource and valued sea country for Traditional Owners. Since European settlement, 160 years ago, the Reef and its resources have been used and enjoyed by a variety of non-commercial and commercial uses, forming an important part of the social and economic fabric of regional Queensland, the Australian community, and the broader international community. A 2013 national survey estimated that 44 per cent of Australians had visited the Region in their lifetime.1 For almost 40 years, the Region has been managed as a multiple-use marine protected area, providing for protection, allowing for ecologically sustainable use, promoting understanding and enjoyment, and encouraging engagement. In managing the Region, environmental, economic and social aspects are considered in order to achieve the best outcomes for both the Great Barrier Reef and the community. The Region supports significant commercial and non-commercial uses, especially commercial marine tourism and fishing (Figure 5.1). It is estimated that, in 2011–12, the Great Barrier Reef contributed approximately $5.6 billion to the Australian economy (Table 5.1) and supported employment equivalent to about 69,000 full-time positions.2 This is an increase of about $200 million and 14,000 positions since 2006–07.2,3 These estimates, however, are likely to be only a portion of the total economic value of the Reef as most ecosystem services of the Reef have not yet been calculated.4 At the same time, ports and shipping activity adjacent to and through the Region has continued to increase, providing a link in the production chain for many industries and services in regional Queensland.