30 May 2016


New figures released today confirm an unprecedented environmental disaster is occurring on the Northern Great Barrier Reef.

One-third of corals in the 1000km stretch of the Reef north of Cairns are now dead or dying.

"This demands an emergency response from our national leaders – on all sides of politics,” said WWF-Australia spokesperson Nick Heath.

“The Great Barrier Reef is not just an environmental treasure, it supports 69,000 jobs and is vital to Queensland’s economy."

"WWF-Australia is calling on all political parties to commit to stronger action to tackle climate change, plus new laws and funding to reverse water pollution on the Great Barrier Reef."

“We need the strongest possible action to slow down the warming of the oceans, and give the Reef the clean water it needs to recover from this bleaching disaster."

"Both major parties say they have plans to tackle global warming, but give more than $7.7 billion a year in tax payer funds in fossil fuels subsidies that fuel global warming."

"The $7.7 billion would be better spent on growing renewable energy and stopping water pollution, not underwriting the costs of multi-national fossil fuel companies."

"The new data comes from underwater surveys by scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and reveals the ongoing impact of the mass coral bleaching event that began in March this year."

"The surveys show that south of Cairns only 5% of corals have died, but in the north, 35% of corals on surveyed reefs are already dead or dying."

“Corals can recover from bleaching. But if the water stays too hot for too long, the worst hit corals will die."

“Water temperatures around the Great Barrier Reef have been well above average for months, and it’s killing our corals."

“Scientist confirm that the death toll documented from this year’s bleaching event is far higher than previously recorded for such events on the Great Barrier Reef."

“Coral bleaching is directly related to climate change."

“Global warming – fuelled by burning fossil fuels - is increasing the water temperature and bleaching coral reefs."

"Poor water quality weakens corals, making them more sensitive to high temperatures, and slower to recover from bleaching events."

“Australia’s leaders must face up to the dire threats facing the Reef, including Water Quality and Climate Change, and take actions to address them. The Reef urgently needs leadership to tackle the threats it faces and to build a future in which the Reef thrives.” 

WWF-Australia Media Contact: Mark Symons, Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571