GREAT BARRIER REEF
// Outlook Report 2014
Sediments, nutrients and pesticides will continue affecting the ecosystem and heritage values for decades to come. There is increasing evidence that current trends for crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks are likely to continue, contributing further to coral reef mortality, until such time that the Region’s water quality has improved. Marine debris continues to enter the Region and will persist for decades. It will continue to affect the Region’s ecosystem and heritage values, especially species of conservation concern and aesthetic values. Direct use The Region is expected to continue to be a significant contributor to regional and national economies through commercial and non-commercial uses. Past declines in tourism visitor numbers are reversing, but will continue to depend on global economic factors (such as monetary exchange rates). The Great Barrier Reef continues to be valued well beyond its local communities, with strong national and international interest. It will continue to be of major importance to its Traditional Owners and the maintenance of their cultural values. People that visit the Region are expected to continue to enjoy their experiences. Impacts from direct use of the Region are many and will continue to present varying degrees of risk to the ecosystem and heritage values. Continuation of current management arrangements should effectively avoid many impacts, for example those related to commercial marine tourism, defence activities and shipping. Improvements in Traditional Owner community compliance programs related to reporting and detection of illegal activities are expected to continue for at least the next few years. Without effective mitigation devices and management arrangements, the death of incidentally caught species of conservation concern will almost certainly continue across all fisheries and the Queensland shark control program, with major consequences for their populations and Traditional Owner cultural values. Non-compliance with management arrangements, especially illegal fishing, is predicted to continue into the future, with the ongoing effect of compromising management outcomes for the Region’s ecosystem and its heritage values. Predicted increases in use of the Region may increase the risk of associated threats, such as incompatible uses at popular sites.
Many potential impacts of direct use are avoided under current management; some key risks remain.
10.3.2 Management effectiveness
Since 2009, effectiveness has been assessed as improving for two areas of management focus: landbased run-off and traditional use of marine resources. These results illustrate the importance of strategic planning, research to inform management and significant commitment of resources. There continues to be particular management challenges in consistency across jurisdictions, and in understanding the values and better incorporating their consideration in decision making, although progress is being made. The difficulties in achieving positive outcomes on the ground are likely to continue — given the complexity of many issues, the spatial and temporal scales of the threats to the Region’s values and the diminishing resource base to implement actions. The lagging response in desired outcomes for the Region is largely a result of the time needed to effect change in the system.