Australia unveils plan to secure Great Barrier Reef’s future

Australia released its long-term blueprint to save the Great Barrier Reef on Saturday, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott saying protecting the World Heritage site was a priority. The 35-year plan for the major tourist attraction off the Queensland coast includes a complete and permanent ban on the dumping of capital dredge material in the area and sets targets to improve water quality and marine life populations. Abbott said the plan would “secure Australia’s majestic Great Barrier Reef as a place of outstanding universal value on the World Heritage List”.

The last thing I want to do as prime minister is anything that would compromise the quality of this reef which it is our duty to protect for the future.

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has threatened to put the reef on its danger list due to threats from dredging, climate change, farm run-off and the destructive crown-of-thorns starfish. But Abbott said the reef was a priority for his conservative government and argued that the ‘Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan’ addressed the international community’s concerns. Under the plans, pesticide loads in priority areas must drop by at least 60% by 2018 while populations of turtles, dolphins and dugongs must be either stable or increasing by 2020. But environmental group WWF-Australia said while the plan included some good initiatives, including $77m ( £51m) more federal funding for the reef, it fell short of halting its decline.

I believe that with it we will be able to convince the World Heritage committee that not only should they not list the reef as in danger but that we will keep the reef from actually being in danger.

Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles