Australia`s Great Barrier Reef destroyed by Crown of Thorns



Posted on 02 October 2012  | 
Revelations that chemical fertiliser pollution is driving the significant and ongoing loss of coral on the Great Barrier Reef highlights the urgent need for intervention by the Australian and Queensland Governments, WWF-Australia said today.

A new scientific paper, The 27 Year Decline of Coral Cover on the Great Barrier Reef and its Causes, released today by the Australian Institute of Marine Science reveals a staggering 50 per cent loss in coral cover since the early 1980s.
 
The report attributes the majority of this coral decline to infestation by the coral-eating Crown of Thorns starfish, which thrives in fertiliser-polluted waters.
 
"This report shows that over half of the Great Barrier Reef is dead or dying predominantly as a result of pollution from chemical fertilisers," says WWF-Australia spokesperson Nick Heath.
 
Mr Heath said the findings drew a line under previous scientific debates as to which human impacts caused the most damage to the World Heritage icon.

"The debate is over. This latest research demonstrates that more decisive action to cut chemical fertiliser is urgently needed to prevent unprecedented and on-going outbreaks of Crown of Thorns starfish, which are in turn converting the Great Barrier Reef into rubble," he said.
 
Previously, there was disagreement within the scientific community as to whether chemical fertiliser and Crown of Thorns starfish were the main culprits in the decline of the reef.

Todays scientific paper brings together those scientists with previously opposing views and the verdict is now beyond reasonable doubt.
 
WWF is calling on the Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to commit at least half a billion dollars over seven years to meet targets to cut chemical fertiliser run-off by 50 per cent cut by next year and no detrimental run-off by 2020.
 
WWF is also calling on Queensland Premier Campbell Newman to enforce existing laws to cut pollution from 1 July 2013.
 
"What this report shows is that we need urgent recommitment from both the Commonwealth and Queensland governments that will significantly reduce chemical fertiliser pollution on the reef," Mr Heath said.
 
While these findings are deeply disturbing, with the right political will we can stop the march of Crown of Thorns starfish in its tracks and save the reef.".
Crown of thorns seastars (<i>Acathaster planci</i>) can occur in plague proportions, eating all live coral in their path, and are drastically reducing the size and viability of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The Crown-of-thorns are most active in summer and are the only known venomous sea star.
Crown of thorns seastars (Acathaster planci) can occur in plague proportions, eating all live coral in their path, and are drastically reducing the size and viability of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The Crown-of-thorns are most active in summer and are the only known venomous sea star.
© WWF-Canon / Jürgen FREUND Enlarge
Hardy Reef, aerial view. Great Barrier Reef & Coral Sea, Australia.
© Jürgen Freund / WWF-Canon Enlarge

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