The Great Barrier Reef is under threat, with its future remaining in jeopardy despite conservation efforts, a report released on Tuesday has said.
The five-year report released by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority predicts even greater deterioration to the natural wonder if major efforts are not undertaken.
The report cites climate change as the main cause of the damage: bleaching the coral and raising the levels of acidity in the water, but poor water quality from land run-off, as well as illegal fishing and construction are also creating problems.
The report predicted: “Even with the recent management initiatives to reduce threats and improve resilience, the overall outlook for the Great Barrier Reef is poor, has worsened since 2009 and is expected to further deteriorate.”
Environmental organisations and conservationists say that great changes are needed to avoid such an outcome.
The Great Barrier Reef is a Unesco protected World Heritage Site, and the largest coral structure in the world, providing marine biologists with a plethora of rare sea life.
At more than 2,600 km (1,680 miles) long, the reef is home to 4,000 types of coral, and at least 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 species of mollusc. It could well be placed on the Unesco danger list if improvements to its condition are not seen soon.
The Australian government invests A$180 million (€125 million) a year in efforts to maintain the reef, and some notable improvements have been seen: water pollution has decreased, and species including humpback whales and crocodiles are increasing in number.
What is clear is that a concerted effort over a long period of time has to be made. Speaking to the BBC, Greg Hunt, Australia’s Environment Minister, said: “Together, these reports reinforce there are no quick fixes and it will take time to turn around the overall health of the reef with a concerted effort from government, industries and communities.
“We are absolutely committed to protecting and improving the health of this iconic natural wonder so it can be enjoyed by future generations.”