Climate Change Action

Expected changes in global climate pose threats to coral reefs in several ways. Higher water temperatures are likely to increase the incidence of coral diseases and temperature increases of only 1˚C to 1.5˚C above the long-term average can cause mass coral bleaching. More frequent storms will increasingly cause physical damage to coral reefs. Increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will increase the acidity of the ocean, reducing the ability of corals and other animals to build their calcium carbonate skeletons.

As a marine tourism operator, you can take meaningful action in response to climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. You can improve the Reef's resilience to climate change by minimising your environmental 'footprint' on the Reef. You can also develop and implement strategies to adapt to climate change.

Responsible Reef Practices

Raising awareness

  • Build a climate change element into your interpretation programs to help visitors understand the impacts on coral reef ecosystems and to encourage your clients to take actions to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions at home and in their community.
  • Talk to government representatives, colleagues and friends about climate change. Let them know it's affecting your business and provide ideas on how they can help.

Reduce your carbon footprint

  • Calculate your operation's overall carbon footprint.
  • Reduce emissions by:
    • Operating your vessel at speeds that reduce fuel consumption
    • Increasing the temperature set on your air conditioners
    • Eliminating unnecessary waste in delivering your product to your clients
    • Minimising your electricity consumption in buildings and infrastructure and sourcing energy from renewable sources
    • Maintaining your vessels and outboard engines to ensure the most efficient operation
    • Using electronic media or recyclable materials for marketing and promotion.
  • Set the example – so your clients reduce their waste while on your vessel.
  • Offset any remaining emissions by purchasing carbon credits (see Related Links).
  • Provide your clients with options to offset greenhouse gas emissions caused by their travel and accommodation.
  • Partner with climate friendly businesses who are actively taking steps to minimise greenhouse gases, water pollution and other environmental impacts.
  • Support community or regional initiatives aimed at reducing emissions.

Improve the resilience of the reef

  • Use approved moorings where possible and follow best practices for anchoring, snorkelling, and diving – a healthy reef is more resilient to climate change.
  • Improve water quality in the Marine Park by disposing of waste and wastewater appropriately.
  • Provide reliable reports about coral bleaching and reef condition at the sites you visit through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's coral bleaching early warning system.

In your business operations and planning

  • Demonstrate your commitment to climate change action by being independently certified.
  • Build climate change into your business planning:
    • Undertake a risk assessment in relation to your buildings, vessels, use of the Great Barrier Reef, the expectations of your staff and customer and your media and communications
    • Assess and plan for severe coral bleaching or other climate change impacts. This could include alternative product and marketing strategies, alternative itineraries and activities, vessels that provide your clients with a smoother trip in rough weather and more comprehensive insurance.
  • Market your climate change achievements to your clients and invite them to be involved.
  • Train and inspire your staff to ensure a commitment to reducing emissions by all.

    Find Out More

    Taking action on climate change


    Information on climate change on the Great Barrier Reef

    Reef Facts for Tour Guides

  • Free zoning app

    Zoning maps

    If you're heading out on the water, download and use the free zoning app so you know where you can go and what you can do.

  • Important milestone

    40 years anniversary

    We're delighted to celebrate the 40 years of the managing the Great Barrier Reef.

  • Visit the Reef

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    Visit our Great Barrier Reef and discover its amazing animals, plants, and habitats.

  • What you can do

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    Everyone has a role to play in protecting our Great Barrier Reef. Find out what you can do to help protect this great Australian icon.

  • Report marine strandings


    If you see sick, dead or stranded marine animals please call RSPCA QLD 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625)

  • Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef

    Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef vulnerability assessment cover image

    A Vulnerability Assessment: of the issues that could have far-reaching consequences for the Great Barrier Reef.

  • Current Conditions

    Current Conditions logo promo image

    Current Conditions: Environmental and climatic forecasts for the Great Barrier Reef