GREAT BARRIER REEF
// Outlook Report 2014
About this report
Every five years, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority prepares an Outlook Report for the Great Barrier Reef (the Reef). The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 (the Act) and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983 (the Regulations) stipulate what the report must contain and that it must be given to the Australian Government Minister for the Environment for tabling in both houses of the Australian Parliament (Appendix 1). Outlook Reports are a regular and reliable means of assessing overall performance of all measures to protect and manage the Great Barrier Reef in an accountable and transparent manner. They are a key input for any changes to management arrangements and the consideration of broader issues by government. The first Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report1 was released in September 2009. As required by the Act, it provided a summary of the long-term outlook for the Reef based on assessments of condition, use, influencing factors, management effectiveness, resilience and risks. This second report builds upon the first. It provides a snapshot of current condition and examines progress in protecting the Reef since 2009. Importantly, it better encompasses the full range of values. It reflects the 2013 amendment of the Regulations which requires explicit assessment of heritage values in future Outlook Reports (Appendix 1).
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act and Regulations set out what the report must contain.
The area examined in this report is the Great Barrier Reef Region (the Region) as defined in the Act. The Region covers 346,000 square kilometres from the tip of Cape York in the north to past Lady Elliot Island in the south, with mean low water as its western boundary and extending eastwards a distance of between 70 and 250 kilometres (Figure 1.1). It includes about 70 Commonwealth-owned islands. However, the majority of islands are owned by the Queensland Government or privately and are not included in the Region. There are geographically small but important differences between the boundaries of the Region, the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (Table 1.1). The Region’s boundaries match those of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, except the Region includes the areas around major ports that are not part of the Marine Park. The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area also has similar boundaries to the Region, except that it includes all islands and all Queensland internal waters that are within its outer boundary. The Outlook Report aims to assess all parts of the ecosystem within the Region, including everything from mangroves and seagrass meadows to coral reefs and the open ocean. For the purposes of this report all the ecosystem components are referred to as the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem or simply the Great Barrier Reef. The report also aims to assess all aspects of the Region’s heritage values, from its world heritage values and outstanding universal value to its cultural values and historic places. Where it is relevant to the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem and its heritage values, the report looks beyond the Region’s boundaries and includes information about adjacent islands, neighbouring marine areas and catchments adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. As was the case in 2009, the Act does not provide for the Outlook Report to include recommendations about future protection or management initiatives.
The Outlook Report focuses on the Great Barrier Reef Region and the factors that influence it.