Queensland Environment Minister Andrew Powell has welcomed UNESCO’s acknowledgement of the progress the Queensland Government has made in ensuring the Great Barrier Reef remains on the World Heritage List.
Mr Powell said that UNESCO released its draft recommendations to the World Heritage Committee overnight and they would be considered by the World Heritage Committee in Qatar in June.
“This is a clear acknowledgement by UNESCO to the World Heritage Committee of this Government’s continuing efforts to protect the reef,” Mr Powell said.
“We have being working with the Australian Government to implement every one of the World Heritage Committee’s requests and I am pleased that our efforts have now been acknowledged internationally.
“Nearly 30 years of monitoring by the Australian Institute of Marine Science has shown the key impacts on the reef continue to be severe weather events such as cyclones, crown of thorns starfish and coral bleaching.
“That is why we continue to invest $35 million a year to reduce runoff and improve water quality and that is why the federal government is investing significant resources into reducing crown of thorns starfish.”
Mr Powell said the Queensland Government took its responsibilities for managing coastal development seriously.
“We can’t turn around the bad decisions by the previous Labor government overnight. We are working on a long term strategy but with immediate actions.
“The Queensland Ports Strategy we released last year clearly states our intention to restrict future port development to the long established major ports.
“We have significantly scaled back the previous plans approved by the Bligh led Government in 2011.
“That proposal would have resulted in 38 million tonnes of material being dredged and would have in fact created a new island off Abbot Point.
“Our plans are small in contrast and we have applied rigorous conditions to ensure there is a net benefit to the water quality on the Reef.
“These actions are entirely consistent with UNESCO’s requests.
“As custodians of the reef we are determined to ensure it remains one of the best managed marine ecosystems in the world.
“Queenslanders can be assured the reef is in safe hands and we will continue to focus our efforts on real issues rather than imagined threats.”
Detailed facts on the Great Barrier Reef are available at www.reeffacts.qld.gov.au