Response to report: High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy

A report released today commissioned by the High Level Panel for A Sustainable Ocean Economy – The expected impacts of climate change on the ocean economy, assesses different climate change scenarios and their impacts on fisheries and reef tourism.  It suggests potential economic losses by the end of the century of over 90 per cent for reef tourism around the world.

The Great Barrier Reef is a vast and spectacular ecosystem and one of the most complex natural systems on Earth. Its natural beauty, natural phenomena and heritage values endure and underpin significant social, cultural and economic benefits for Australia.

The Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2019 report finds the greatest threat to the Reef is still climate change. The other main threats are associated with coastal development, land-based run-off, and direct human use (such as illegal fishing).

The Authority’s position statement on climate change calls for significant global action to address climate change, which is critical to slow the deterioration of the Reef’s ecosystem and heritage values and support recovery. Such actions will complement and greatly increase the effectiveness of local management actions in the Reef and its catchment.

Like other coral reefs globally, the Great Barrier Reef is under pressure from climate change and other threats however, it remains a vibrant, beautiful ecosystem of immense value to Australians and the world. It continues to attract millions of visitors each year.

While accelerating global actions to address climate change is critical to ensure the future of the Reef, it is also critical the Authority continues to adaptively manage the Marine Park to build the Reef’s resilience so it can better tolerate the increasing levels of risk posed by human activities at global and local scales. Guided by the Great Barrier Reef blueprint for resilience, the Authority will continue to support a range of initiatives in the Marine Park, including the development of a Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program, which will inform our adaptive management into the future.

The Authority continues to draw on its strong and effective partnerships to reduce cumulative impacts, deliver conservation actions and encourage stewardship of the Reef. The marine tourism industry is a key partner in the protection and management of the Great Barrier Reef.  High Standard Tourism Operators help enhance visitor experiences of the Reef and play an important role in protecting the amazing biodiversity that supports their industry.

The Authority also acknowledges the sea country management and custodianship of the Reef by Traditional Owners and will work with them to deliver actions under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Strategy for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is committed to building resilience of the Reef for future generations and promoting strong and effective management of local and regional pressures. Actions include:

  • Providing expert knowledge to influence and advise key decision-makers on managing, reducing or avoiding significant threats to the Reef
  • Regulating and ensuring Marine Park user compliance
  • Educating and fostering stewardship to enhance protection of the Reef
  • Enhancing Reef resilience through continuous improvement and new initiatives across all aspects of management

The Reef continues to be Australia’s greatest natural attraction, recognised as an iconic experience, locally, nationally and internationally.

Tourism operators have increased stewardship by contributing to Reef monitoring, following responsible reef practices, trialing small-scale reef restoration initiatives, and supporting delivery of quality interpretation and education by accredited Master Reef Guides.

Visitors contribute to the Reef's conservation through the environmental management charge which is collected by tourism operators on behalf of the Marine Park Authority.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority encourages people from all over Australia and around the world to come and experience the Great Barrier Reef, be inspired by its beauty and to take actions to protect it for future generations to enjoy.