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Reef Report for Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Great Barrier Reef in the News
For all the right and wrong reasons.

If you have been anywhere near a newspaper lately youíve no doubt read about the ongoing conflict between mining, port development and conservation interests over protection of the Great Barrier Reef. © Deep Sea Divers Den The news is everywhere, and a wide range of groups representing an equally wide range of interests are trying to place their interests in the best light.

Whatís at stake on one side is the long term health of the Great Barrier Reef, a unique and massive ecosystem for which the Australian Government has promised to protect, through itís being named a World Heritage site, and through the establishment of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Not many folks are arguing about the scientific data: while parts of the reef are still magnificent, divers from all over the world come to see its amazing coral reef life. However other parts, especially those parts closest to the coast, are not in near as good of shape as they were 25 years ago. The impact of cyclones and crown of thorns starfish are cited as the causes for around half the damage seen by scientific research, the other half a mixed bag of causes, many associated with economic (mining, urbanization, grazing and agricultural) activities on the watersheds that drain into the waters alongside the Great Barrier Reef.

Recently, the increased value of coal and other mineral deposits in the interior of Queensland have led to the proposal, and even the approval of a number of large mining projects. These millions of tonnes of minerals need to be shipped to overseas buyers, hence the need for a very significant expansion of ports alongside the Great Barrier Reef.

There are huge amounts of money at stake, profits for the mining industry, profits for construction and port development, taxes, port fees, as well as tourism, recreation, and commercial fishing.

In light of the scientific evidence of the Great Barrier Reef not showing a trend of improved health over the past 2 generations, itís seems like it would be wise to proceed with extreme caution on any new developments.

The one interest that canít speak for itself is the Great Barrier Reef, thatís where you come in. Why not do a bit of background reading and if you see a trend you donít like, become an advocate for this unique ecosystem?

Hereís a good starting point in your education: the latest Great Barrier Reef news .

(C) DiveTheReef The weekly reef report is written by Joel Groberg of DiveTheReef.com, who compiles them from the many conversations he has with dive staff in the area, as well as† many other local sources in the dive community.

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