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Great Barrier Reef


Great Barrier Reef HSC Geography Case Study Introduction Few people know the fascinating reality the tremendously complex maze of reefs and islands which make up the ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef
  • HSC Geography
  • Case Study

  • Few people know the fascinating reality the
    tremendously complex maze of reefs and islands
    which make up the GBR
  • High, tree covered continental islands
  • Low coral cays afloat on the water
  • Submerged reefs and tiny sandspits.
  • GBR is one of the richest and most diverse
    ecosystems on this planet.

  • Spatial patterns and dimensions
  • Biophysical interactions
  • Nature and rate of factors affecting ecosystem
  • Management strategies and
  • Evaluation of contemporary and traditional
    management strategies

Spatial Patterns and Dimensions
  • North East Australian coast from South of Tropic
    of Capricorn to the Torres Straight and Papua.
  • No clear Northern end to system
  • Covers an area of 350 000 km2
  • Long, narrow system which stretches 2 000 km
    along coast ranging from 50 km wide in the north
    to 200 km wide in the south.
  • Largest system of corals in world lt 3000 reefs
  • 3 main sections/regions according to latitude
  • Southern section
  • Central section
  • Northern section

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The Southern Section
  • Extends from Swains group where the continental
    shelf is wide (150 nautical miles) to latitude of
    approximately 21º30 S where continental shelf is
    70 nautical miles wide
  • Tidal ranges are high in this area and there is a
    broad coastal lagoon 50-60 metres deep. This
    gradually narrows from 70 nautical miles in the
    south to 30 nautical miles in the north.
  • The coastal lagoon separates the offshore areas
    with consistently high salinity, low nutrient,
    clear, oceanic waters with extensive reef growth
    in shallow sites from the inshore areas. The
    closest major reef growth occurs between 10 and
    50 nautical miles from the coast. The inshore
    waters have variable salinity depending on levels
    of rainfall and coastal runoff.

The Southern Section
  • The inshore waters are frequently turbid with
    sediments brought by the river systems and
    resuspended by wave action generated by the
    southeast trade winds.
  • The inshore waters consequently support
    relatively limited reef growth, mainly in the
    form of fringing reef on islands or rocks of
    continental origin.
  • To the North of the Swains group the outer reef
    of the Southern section form a tightly packed
    mass of large reef separated by narrow channels
    that break the force of the Pacific Ocean waves.

The Central Section
  • The Central Section extends northward from
    21º30S to approximately 14º30S. The continental
    shelf and the inshore lagoon become gradually
  • By 15º the lagoon is less than 10 nautical miles
    wide and the continental shelf less than 30
    nautical miles.
  • The depth in the lagoon and between reef masses
    gradually decreases to the north to about 35
    metres at 15ºS.
  • Three major river systems drain into the lagoon
    between 17º and 21º. Up to about 17ºS the reefs
    are relatively sparsely scattered and there is no
    distinct outer line of reef abutting the Pacific.
  • From 17º northward the ribbon reef system stands
    on the edge of the steep continental shelf
    dropoff forming an almost continuous rampart of
    coral broken only by narrow channels.

The Northern Section
  • The Northern section of the GBR runs from about
    14º30S to the Torres Strait at approximately
  • No inshore lagoon and the depth is for the most
    part about 30 metres.
  • The continental shelf becomes broader again and
    no major river systems drain into the region
    until in the extreme north, where the influence
    of the Fly River of Papua becomes a minor factor

Biophysical Interactions
Weather and Climate
  • The Great Barrier Reef area has a tropical
    climate influenced primarily by two features of
    the Southern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation.
    The equatorial low pressure zone during the
    summer months, and the subtropical high pressure
    zone during the winter months.
  • As the area lies between the continental mass of
    Australia and the open ocean of the South
    Pacific, its climate is also strongly influenced
    by both the adjacent landmass and oceanic
  • Wind patterns are dominated for the greater part
    of the year by the southeast trades.
  • During the months of January to March north
    westerlies prevail in the north of the area under
    the influence of the inter tropical monsoonal

Weather and Climate
  • The rainfall pattern is marked by great
    variability from year to year and by geographical
  • Rainfall occurs predominantly in the summer
    months throughout the area, under the influence
    of the monsoon and the regular occurrence of
    tropical cyclones and depressions.
  • Southern parts of the area occasionally receive
    good falls in winter associated with winter
  • Air temperatures vary between an average maximum
    of about 30ºC in January and 23ºC in July and an
    average minimum of about 24ºC in January and 18ºC
    in July.

Geomorphic Processes
  • Geomorphic processes in the GBR include the
    history of the reef and the different types of
    coral reefs.
  • A combination of geological events affecting the
    northeastern coast of Australia, that began some
    53 million years ago, determined the development
    of the Great Barrier Reef. The first of these was
    when Australia and New Zealand separated from the
    super continent, Gondwana, and slowly drifted

Geomorphic Processes
  • About 30 million years ago the earth began to
    experience the effects of world wide temperature
    fluctuations associated with the great ice ages
    of the late Tertiary.
  • 17 million years ago the northern tip of
    Australia passed into the warm waters of the
    Tropics and for the first time the potential for
    coral reef growth existed.
  • Once these coral reefs were established, the
    coral reefs flourished. As temperatures changed
    in the area, sea levels rose and dropped below
    the level of the coral. When the sea levels fell,
    and corals were exposed to the air, their hard
    calcareous skeletons, cemented into large,
    resistant limestone pinnacles, and were left
    standing on the broad flat continental shelf.

Geomorphic Processes
  • When the sea levels rose again, new coral began
    to grow on the old coral, and as a result of this
    higher coral, today we have reefs of coral up to
    150 metres thick. Now, only one fifth of their
    depth is above the sea floor, the remainder being
    buried in sand and mud.
  • There are three distinct types of coral reefs in
    the Great Barrier Reef. The Fringing Reefs are
    coral formations linked to the mainland or to
    continental islands. There are approximately 760
    fringing reef in the GBR. Those surrounding
    continental islands are usually the most
    spectacular. The conditions for coral growth are
    better. The greatest variety of corals and other
    reef organisms are found on these fringing reefs

Geomorphic Processes
  • Another main type of coral reef is the main reef
    or barrier reef. There are approximately 2 200 of
    these reefs in the GBR.
  • These Barrier Reefs or main reefs occupy a band
    on the outer edge of the continental shelf. They
    are considered as either mid-shelf reefs on the
    inside of the band and adjacent to the GBR lagoon
    or outer-shelf reefs adjacent to the Coral Sea.
  • The main reef does not form a continuous barrier
    but consists of individual reefs separated by
    interreefal waters. In some areas considerable
    passages exist, breaking the maze of reefs and
    joining the lagoon to the Coral Sea.

Geomorphic processes
  • The third main type of coral reef are coral cays.
    Coral cays are low-islands formed when eroded
    reef material is swept into a particular part of
    the reef by wave action.
  • In the early stages of development, the coral cay
    is little more than a sandbank, changing it
    position and shape as weather conditions change.
  • As it grows in size, however, the cays position
    on the reef becomes more stable and there are
    fewer changes to its shape.

Hydrologic Processes
  • The river discharges for the coastal regions
    adjoining the GBR is divided into a diverse range
    of wet and dry tropical catchments. Most are
    small (less than 10000 km2), but two, the
    Burdekin (133000 km2) and Fitzroy (143000 km2)
    rivers are among the largest along Australia's
    eastern coast.
  • Flows of water in all catchments bordering the
    GBR are highly variable, both between and within
    years. Discharge is dominated by large flood
    events associated with tropical cyclones and
    monsoonal rainfall.
  • An average of 60 km3 of water is discharged
    yearly from the Great Barrier Reef catchment.

Geomorphic processes
  • Area-specific erosion is higher in the 'wet'
    catchments of the central Great Barrier Reef
    (16-18 south), but overall sediment and nutrient
    inputs are dominated by the large dry catchments
    as a consequence of larger average areas and
    water flows.
  • The principal sources of sediment and nutrients
    from the coastal catchments have been quantified.
    It is estimated that 23 000 000 tonnes of
    sediment, 77000 tonnes of nitrogen and 11 000
    tonnes of phosphorus are exported to the inshore
    coastal waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

Hydrological Processes
  • Rivers entering the Great Barrier Reef also carry
    their highest concentrations of dissolved and
    suspended materials during monsoon flood flow. As
    this is also the period of peak discharge, almost
    the complete load of materials entering Great
    Barrier Reef waters occurs during these short
  • Concentrations of suspended sediments reach
    7000mg/L in the Burdekin River and 1500 mg/L in
    the wet tropics rivers in peak discharge compared
    to values of 10 mg/L in non-flood conditions.
  • Nutrient species also reach concentrations from
    two to ten times their non-flood values at such
    times. Concentrations at these times far exceed
    Australian and New Zealand Environment and
    Conservation Council guidelines for ecosystem
    health for some parameters while non-flood values
    are normally well within the guidelines.

Hydrological processes
  • A number of parameters (salinity, nitrite,
    particulate nitrogen, dissolved organic
    phosphorus and chlorophyll) show seasonal
    differences in concentrations.
  • Most of the observed seasonal and cross-shelf
    variability in nutrient and suspended matter
    consent rations is likely due to short-lived
    event processes (upwelling, winds, and
    resuspension) which largely affect local or
    regional nutrient distributions.

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Biogeographical Processes
  • The flora and vegetation of the continental
    islands and coral cays of the Great Barrier Reef
    World Heritage Area are exceptionally diverse
    given the small area of land involved.
  • There is a total of 2211 plant species on the
    more than 550 continental islands. This is about
    a quarter of the total number of species for
    Queensland in only 0.1 of the area of the State.
  • This island plant community is dominated by
    rainforest species (48 of species present)
    together with open-forest species (46) and
    coastline species (6). 62 of the species are
    currently listed as rare or endangered and two
    species are found only in the GBR.

Biogeographical Processes
  • Introduced plant species are present on the
    continental islands of the World Heritage Area,
    but in lower numbers of species than usually
    found on developed islands in other regions.
  • In different areas of the Great Barrier Reef the
    percentage of introduced species on islands
    varies from 4.7 to 14.4. For comparison, 47 of
    the plant species on Hawaii are introduced.

Biogeographical Processes
  • Plant communities on the more than 230 coral cays
    have fewer species with 350-400 species in the
    northern region and about 140 in the south. The
    northern region is home to many rainforest
    species and relatively few (only 15) introduced
    ones, whereas the southern region has a
    relatively large number (55) of introduced
  • Coral cay vegetation, particularly the Pisonia
    rainforest, provides important nesting sites for
    seabirds. Seventy per cent of the entire
    Australian coral cay Pisonia rainforest occurs on
    the cays of the Capricorn-Bunker group.

Biogeographical Processes
  • The important members of the Reef fauna include
    molluscs, gastropods, echinoderms, crustaceans,
    worms and ascidians.
  • Many of these species are essential to the
    kinetic processes of the Reef, in that they
    penetrate and break up coral and algae
    structures, contributing large quantities of
    detritus to the Reef mass.

Biogeographical Processes
  • There are approximately 1500 species of fishes in
    the GBR area, exhibiting a variety of size,
    shape, colour and behavior. There are 6 species
    of turtles and they are all protected species.
    Whales, dolphins and dugong also occur in the
    area, although the total number of species of
    marine mammals is unknown.
  • The cays and continental islands of the area
    support 242 species of birds. These include 40
    species of sea birds, of which 21 have breeding
    colonies within the area. Of the 202 species of
    land birds recorded, 109 have breeding sites
  • The most well known fauna of the GBR is the Crown
    of Thorns Starfish, which has caused so much
    controversy in the past few years as we will see

Adjustments in Response to Natural Stress
  • Colonisation by introduced species is a pressure
    on the plant communities of islands. Disturbance
    of natural plant communities by grazing and human
    activities often promotes and accelerates
    colonisation by introduced species. These species
    may have the ability to out-compete native
    species, thus changing the community structure on
    islands in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage
  • Much of the ecosystem does not recover after
    natural stress, but much of it does. For example,
    after floods and great rainfall, nutrient and
    chemical levels usually go back to normal after a
    few weeks, and the ecosystem goes back to
    functioning normally.

The Nature and Rate of Factors Affecting
Ecosystem Functioning
  • There are many factors, which affect ecosystem
    functioning. This part of the presentation will
    be presenting the nature and rate of these
    factors, which affect ecosystem functioning.

  • The general condition of nutrient enrichment and
    the subsequent problems is known as
    eutrophication or more simply it is the increase
    in the nutrient status of a water body, and
    consequently the rapid growth of plants, both
    natural and as a result of human activity. Excess
    nutrients have a number of effects on coral
  • Nitrogen or phosphorus can encourage the growth
    of phytoplankton leading to decreased water
    clarity and reduced light for coral growth. The
    increased phytoplankton also encourages the
    growth of filter-feeding organisms such as
    sponges, tube worms and barnacles which compete
    for space with coral.
  • Nutrients also promote the growth of algae that
    overgrows the coral while excessive phosphorus
    concentrations weaken the coral skeleton thus
    making it more susceptible to damage from storm

  • Evidence of eutrophication in the phytoplankton
    record is unclear. No long-term records of
    phytoplankton biomass in the Great Barrier Reef
    lagoon exist which would allow us to definitively
    trace long-term trends but there have been
    several studies done in the past. These, along
    with recent studies, will be used to create a new
  • In some small areas of the Reef, evidence of
    eutrophication is indisputable. Large increases
    in the area of seagrass beds around some resort
    islands are associated with the prolonged
    discharge of untreated sewage from the islands.
    Upgraded sewage systems at these resort islands
    have eliminated the problems in recent years.
  • In the Whitsunday Island reefs, recently reduced
    coral health and growth have been linked to the
    eutrophication gradient from nutrient discharge
    from the Proserpine River.

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  • There are many diseases and environmental factors
    that are causing the health of all coral reefs in
    the world to decline.
  • The Yellow Pox disease is a slow acting disease,
    which can be determined by yellow round rings on
    the sides of coral. The disease starts off with
    clear rings then they turn into a yellow blotch
    around sediment patches.
  • The White plague (II) disease is a fast acting
    disease, which spreads about 1 cm per day. A
    potential bacteria pathogen has recently been
    identified and it is a newly discovered species,
    which may represent an entirely new genus. The
    White Plague (I) disease is slower acting.
  • The White band (I) disease is also slow acting,
    only affecting Arcropod (branching) species of
    coral. Coral tissue peels off slowly, with a
    white band found at the base and the middle of
    the coral.

  • The White band (II) disease often progresses very
    quickly. A bleaching edge precedes the necrotic
    (dead) edge by up to 9 cm per day. The bleaching
    edge can become arrested, allowing the narcotic
    edge to catch up. When this happens, type (I) and
    type (II) of the disease appear very similar. A
    bacterium, similar to one previously isolated
    from sharks, appears to be the cause.
  • Diseases in the GBR are an apparent major event
    that is deteriorating the live coral count in the
    Great Barrier Reef.
  • Disease has been around for 60 years and it has
    been recorded 5 times in the past 20 years but
    the current amount of disease is to be the
    biggest recorded. 88 of inshore reefs are
    infected to some extent and about 25 are
    severely infected (more than 60 of coral is
    estimated to be affected).

Global warming
  • A change in sea water temperature of as little as
    2-3 degrees Celsius for a few days can cause mass
    coral bleaching, sometimes killing thousands of
    square kilometers of coral.
  • Coral Bleaching has been closely linked to Global
    warming which has been suggested to occur because
    of accumulating Greenhouse gasses in the
    atmosphere, which cause the atmosphere to become
    abnormally warm. An effect of climate change is
    heavier and more abundant rainfall in some areas.
    In coastal areas and on some islands the heavy
    rainstorms cause serious soil erosion that can
    result in damage to reefs.
  • Sediment, freshwater and agricultural chemicals
    flood off the land, down rivers, and out into the
    sea, inundating the fringing coral reefs. One
    such flood plume from Australia's Fitzroy River
    caused mass coral deaths on the Keppel Island

Coral bleaching
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Crown of Thorns
  • The crown-of-thorns starfish is one of a few
    animals that feed on living coral tissue. It gets
    its name from the dense covering of long sharp
    spines covering its upper surface. At low
    densities this animal is just another part of the
    ecology of a coral reef. However, when the
    crown-of-thorns starfish reaches densities at
    which it eats corals faster than they can grow
    and reproduce, this can lead to major reductions
    in coral cover and result in major disturbance to
    the whole ecology of a reef. This threshold
    density is estimated to be 30 mature
    crown-of-thorns starfish per hectare. Populations
    that exceed this density are known as 'outbreak

Crown of Thorns
Crown of Thorns
  • The first outbreak populations of crown-of-thorns
    starfish to be noticed and described were at
    Green Island and nearby reefs offshore from
    Cairns in 1962.
  • Over the next 14 years this outbreak slowly
    spread southwards as far as reefs offshore from
    Mackay, where it gradually petered out.
  • A second outbreak, probably again beginning to
    the north of Cairns and spreading southwards,
    occurred between 1979 and 1991. Both outbreaks
    were mostly confined to mid-shelf coral reefs.
    The second outbreak affected approximately 17 of
    the more than 2800 coral reefs in the World
    Heritage Area, with 5 of reefs having severe
    outbreaks. It is thought that the apparent
    southward spread of outbreaks is due to
    crown-of-thorns starfish larvae being transported
    from one reef to another by the East Australian

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Crown of Thorns
  • In 1993, the first stages of another outbreak
    were detected. Since then this outbreak has
    developed, with increasing numbers of
    crown-of-thorns starfish being found and
    increasing numbers of reefs being affected.
    Surveys of the Cairns Section of the Marine Park
    in 1994-95 found only two out of 27 surveyed
    reefs (7.4) had reef-wide outbreaks. In 1996-97
    this figure was seven out of 28 (25).
  • Thirteen reefs had outbreaks over part of their
    area (spot outbreaks), leaving only eight that
    were completely free from outbreaks. In addition,
    the proportion of observed crown-of-thorns
    starfish that were sexually mature increased
    every year, indicating that the outbreak will
    increase in severity and geographic range.

COTS outbreaks
Crown of Thorns
  • The effects of a crown-of-thorns starfish
    outbreak on a reef can be highly variable. In the
    second outbreak episode, about 57 of reefs that
    experienced an outbreak suffered 30 to over 50
    coral mortality over at least one-third of their
    perimeters. However, not all reefs were so badly
    affected. On average, this outbreak episode
    caused a 3.4-fold increase in the amount of dead
    coral on affected reefs.
  • The crown-of-thorns starfish is an organism that
    can be viewed from two different perspectives.
    Firstly, it is a component of the coral reef
    ecosystem. As such we can consider the issues of
    state, pressure and response as they relate to
    the starfish itself. Secondly, the
    crown-of-thorns starfish can be considered as a
    direct pressure on hard corals (because it feeds
    on them) and an indirect pressure on other reef
    organisms (such as many fishes) that are reliant
    on hard corals for food or shelter.

Crown of Thorns
  • Despite significant research effort, there is
    still uncertainty as to the causes of
    crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks.
  • It is possible that these outbreaks are a natural
    phenomenon. The crown-of-thorns starfish has the
    ability to produce very large numbers of
    offspring (a single large female can produce up
    to 60 million eggs in a breeding season),
    allowing populations to grow rapidly under
    favourable conditions.
  • There is some geological evidence to suggest that
    outbreaks have occurred on the Great Barrier Reef
    for the last 3000 to 7000 years.

Crown of Thorns
  • Other theories
  • It is possible that increased nutrient run-off
    from the land increases the amount of
    phytoplankton in the water. Larval
    crown-of-thorns starfish feed on this
    phytoplankton and an increase in the food supply
    may lead to higher survivorship of the larvae,
    eventually leading to an outbreak.
  • Fishing and shell collecting have led to
    decreased numbers of predators of the
    crown-of-thorns starfish. Among these predators
    are the giant triton shell, the humphead maori
    wrasse and some emperors. The reduced numbers of
    these predators is thought by some to allow
    crown-of-thorns starfish populations to increase
    beyond natural levels.

Crown of Thorns
  • Despite substantial research programs since 1972,
    none of the evidence gathered so far, either
    supporting outbreaks as natural phenomena or as
    being caused by human pressures, is unequivocal.
  • A recent survey of scientists suggests that most
    believe that crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks
    are natural phenomena, although it is possible
    that the frequency of outbreaks has increased due
    to some human influence.
  • The causes of crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks
    are complex and, so far, the role played by
    humans is unclear.

  • Beef grazing on the large, dry catchments
    adjacent to the Marine Park has involved
    extensive tree clearance and over-grazing during
    drought conditions. As a result, widespread soil
    erosion has occurred, and with this, the export
    of the eroded material (with its associated
    nutrient content) into the Great Barrier Reef.
    Cropping, sugar cane being the largest crop, has
    involved intensive fertiliser use as well as
    substantial soil erosion.
  • A significant part of the pesticides and
    fertilisers used by farmers end up in coastal
    waters close to inshore reefs. In high
    concentrations, the plant nutrients nitrogen and
    phosphorus (found in fertilisers) can be harmful
    to marine ecosystems. In an attempt to offset
    disturbances to the delicate nutrient balance of
    the marine environment, the Authority encourages
    the preservation of riparian vegetation and
    freshwater wetlands that filter out many
    potentially harmful substances before they reach
    the ocean.

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Urban Run-Off
  • Population growth in the towns alongside the
    Queensland coast has resulted in more sewage and
    litter finding its way into the marine
    environment. Urban sewage discharge in river
    systems flowing into the waters adjacent to the
    Marine Park may affect Reef ecosystems, but
    outfalls may lie outside the Authoritys
    jurisdictional boundaries. In such cases there is
    need for complementary policy between Reef
    managers and coastal authorities. Many local
    councils and resorts have opted to recycle
    treated water to irrigate parks, gardens and golf
    courses and agricultural land, or, to divert it
    to road-making projects and for industrial
  • Stormwater run-off often sweeps up litter, oil
    and nutrients on its way towards the ocean and
    distributes it throughout the marine ecosystem.
    Litter not only detracts from the aesthetic value
    of the Great Barrier Reef, but can be a
    death-trap for the animals living there.
    Stormwater management systems, including sediment
    and litter traps, are now being implemented in
    coastal cities and towns.

Urban Run-Off
  • Shipping and related activities in the Marine
    Park pose potentially disastrous water quality
    problems for the Great Barrier Reef. Of most
    concern is the threat of a major oil spill.
    Although the Great Barrier Reef has not witnessed
    a major spill, there is still a chance that one
    may occur.
  • The potential for adverse environmental impact
    from shipping and related activities is great,
    particularly ship-sourced pollution (deliberate
    and inadvertent) and the introduction of exotic
    organisms, for example through ballast water.
  • Exotic organisms have the potential wreak havoc
    on native plants and animals.

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Tourism and Recreation
  • Tourism is the principal commercial use of the
    Marine Park, with an approximate annual value in
    excess of 1 billion and visitation rates
    recorded at 1.6 million visitor-days in 1997.
  • The primary Tourism uses are summarized as
  • Large vessels operating to pontoons moored at
    attractive off-shore reef sites
  • Dive operators
  • Island resorts
  • Cruise ships
  • Charter vessels
  • Helicopter and aircraft overflights
  • Bareboat self-skipper charter

Tourism and Recreation
  • Many popular tourist activities are undertaken
    within the Great Barrier Reef Region. These
  • Fish Feeding
  • Fishing
  • Whale and Dolphin Watching
  • Diving and Snorkelling
  • Reef Walking
  • Turtle Watching

Fish feeding
  • Fish feeding is often the highlight for many
    visitors to the GBR and is quite acceptable
    within the guidelines. It is important to be
    aware that fish feeding may result in undesirably
    aggressive behaviour in some fish and can be
    dangerous to the person feeding the fish or
    others close by in the water.
  • Most food fit for human consumption, particularly
    bread and meat, is generally not suitable for
    fish and may damage their health.
  • Fishing is one of the most popular activities in
    the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. As
    our population continues to grow, increasing
    pressure is placed upon fish stocks each year and
    there is increasing competition for a limited
    supply of fish.
  • Careful treatment and handling of fish caught is
    essential to maintain the quality of table fish,
    or give fish for release the best chance of

Whale and Dolphin Watching
  • The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is an
    important breeding and feeding ground for
    cetaceans such as whales and dolphins. There are
    special regulations for whale watching and it is
    a requirement that all commercial users obtain
    permission from management agencies before they
    conduct whale-watching activities. Whale watching
    can be an exciting and educational experience.
    You can help ensure that human activities have
    minimal impact.
  • The Whale Protection Act 1980 prohibits the
    killing, taking, injuring and interfering with
    cetaceans. Interference includes harassment,
    chasing and herding of whales.

Diving and Snorkeling
  • Divers with experience or without continue to
    destroy coral in a number of ways. The scrape of
    a diver's fin introduces bacteria to the coral,
    which may lead to the death of a coral that is
    hundreds of years old.
  • Some of the divers' flippers and tank straps are
    known to damage coral by banging against it.
    Divers also stand and hold onto brittle coral.
  • Anchoring of boats also presents a problem for
    the coral.

Diving and Snorkeling
  • To provide access for the boats and ships,
    harbors have to be dredged through the corals to
    make way. Dredging rips up the entire coral
    colony and causes increased sediments, which also
    harm corals.
  • ReefBase was initiated in late 1993 to
    consolidate and disseminate information useful in
    managing coral reefs. This database, produced by
    ICLARM, is the most comprehensive source of
    information on reefs available, providing
    ecological and socioeconomic data on sites around
    the world. It includes digital maps of coral
    reefs provided by the World Conservation
    Monitoring Centre (WCMC), space shuttle and
    satellite images contributed by the National
    Atmospheric and Space Administration (NASA) and
    others, and photographs of reefs contributed by
    volunteers. ReefBase is called The World Cities
    Data Base.

Reef Walking
  • Reef walking is a popular way of exploring the
    intertidal area or reef flat, especially for
    those who cannot swim. However, reef walking
    needs to be conducted carefully to avoid serious
    damage to the environment. Often, reef walkers
    decided to take home a souvenir of the GBR, an
    act which is illegal and obviously degrades the

Turtle Watching
  • The Great Barrier Reef is a critical breeding
    ground for four species of turtles. Turtles come
    ashore at night to lay eggs and are easily
    disturbed by light, noise and movement.
  • With care it is possible to watch the fascinating
    events of females laying eggs and hatchlings
    emerging from the sand without disturbing the
  • All sea turtles are protected in Queensland and
    it is illegal to take any turtles or their eggs.

Commercial Fishing
  • Commercial fishing provides a variety of seafoods
    as well as employment. Fishing within the waters
    of the reef is restricted to zones determined by
    the GBRMPA. As trawlers become larger and
    technology makes fishing more efficient, marine
    life could be affected.
  • One of Australias main shipping lanes runs
    between the outer reefs and the coast. The
    passages through the reefs are carefully marked
    and pilots are available to ensure that the risk
    of collisions and grounding on the reef are
    minimized. However many ships do not use pilots
    and the danger of damaging the reefs is increased.

Cyanide Poisoning
  • There is an extremely large market for live fish.
    Consumers pay up to 85 per pound to eat live
    fish in Hong Kong and Southern China. Some
    species can be priced as high a 300 per plate.
  • Fishermen have therefore developed the Cyanide
    fishing method, squirting sodium cyanide on to
    reefs where fish live, which stuns the fish
    making them easier to catch. If the fish are
    hiding in reef cervices the fishermen will rip
    the corals apart with crowbars just to obtain the
    fish. The live fish trade brings in 1 billion a
  • A major consequence that occurs from Cyanide
    fishing is that the coral and small fish are left
    to die and the reef is unproductive for decades
    to follow. Even though Cyanide fishing is illegal
    it continues due to weak enforcement capacities
    and corruption.

Other Human Impacts
  • Collecting aquarium fish and live corals for
    European and North American markets has developed
    into another lucrative but sometimes damaging
    industry. Harvesting often kills organisms not
    intended for collection and more than 50 percent
    of the fish collected die before reaching market.
  • Coral is also harvested to make jewelry, gift
    store curios, coffee table knick-knacks and
    aquarium habitats. Under optimum conditions, many
    corals take 37 years to regenerate (Coral

Management Strategies
  • Water may carry food, nutrients, larvae or
    pollutants as well as being the home environment
    for many species. Whatever is done to manage part
    of a marine ecosystem must take into account the
    influences carried by the water column.
  • The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act was among
    the first in the world to deal comprehensively
    with the management of a marine ecosystem. The
    values which led to the passage of the Act were
    also recognised in 1981 by the inscription of the
    Great Barrier Reef on the World Heritage List.
    The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act provides
    the framework for managing the Great Barrier Reef
    as a large ecosystem.
  • In developing zoning plans to provide the means
    of strategic management of the Great Barrier
    Reef, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
    Authority has placed a major emphasis on
    understanding the linkages between sites and
    activities within the Great Barrier Reef and
    between the adjacent mainland.

  • The GBRMP Authority works with the Queensland
    Department of Primary Industries, the Queensland
    Parks and Wildlife Service, the Department of
    Natural Resources and industry groups to develop
    and implement measures to ease the downstream
    effects of cropping and grazing.
  • It is hoped to reduce catchment run-off of
    sediments, nutrients and pesticides through the
    Integrated Catchment Management program. This is
    the principal tool of the Queensland government
    for reducing catchment-based pollutant discharge
    to aquatic systems and the coastal zone.
  • Codes of practice are being developed for many
    agricultural industries to address environmental
    problems. These Codes have been developed for the
    cotton and sugar industries, with a dairy
    farmer's horticulture codes under development.

Queensland Department of Primary Industries
Shipping and Ballast Water
  • The Authority and other agencies dealing with
    shipping on the Great Barrier Reef have
    facilitated shipping management policies to
    prevent exotic organisms from wreaking havoc on
    native plants and animals.
  • It is important that the Authority both monitors
    and regulates the discharge of waste water and
    sewage from vessels into the Marine Park. New
    standards for the discharge of sewage from
    vessels are being developed.
  • The Authority also works to establish and foster
    liaison and coordination between the agencies
    dealing with shipping in the Great Barrier Reef
    to maintain the prominence of the region as a
    sensitive marine environment and thereby reduce
    the risk of pollution from shipping-related

Tourism Management
  • Tourism use in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
    is jointly managed by the Authority and the
    Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, within the
    statutory framework of Zoning Plans, Plans of
    Management and Permits.
  • The volume and profile of tourism use of the
    Great Barrier Reef Marine Park has changed
    significantly in the past 20 years, presenting
    new challenges to managers. The Authoritys new
    approach to managing marine tourism will be based
    on strategic policy and planning, direct
    management, self-regulation by industry and
    active partnerships.

Strategic Policy and Planning
  • The Authority have developed a Reef-wide plan for
    managing tourism use throughout the Marine Park.
    This will provide a strategic framework for
    future management that will take into account the
    cumulative impacts of tourism use. The planning
    process will identify natural, social, cultural
    and heritage values which could be affected by
    tourism and recreation, and identify methods to
    protect these values.
  • The strategies will be implemented through
    changes in legislation and policy, statutory
    Plans of Management, and education and training.
    The first Plans of Management, for the Cairns and
    Whitsundays areas, were gazetted on 22 June 1998.
    These incorporate provisions for protection of
    the values of both areas, and for managing use of
    the Reef, particularly tourism and recreation
  • These Plans introduce management strategies such
    as settings, limits to use for some sites,
    recognition of historic use of sites by tourist
    operators, and a booking system for access by
    tourism operators to some sites or areas.

Self-regulation by the Industry
  • Operators also recognise the importance of
    interpretive activities and employ staff with
    appropriate skills to inform passengers about the
    Reef and best practices. For example, the
    Authority is investigating together with the
    marine tourism industry and other stakeholders,
    systems of accreditation for Marine Park guides
    and operators. Authority staff are working
    closely with the Whitsunday bareboat industry to
    pilot a staff training program that will form the
    basis of future accreditation for this industry.
  • Volunteer programs also encourage
    self-regulation. These take the form of reporting
    procedures for example COTSWATCH a volunteer
    monitoring and reporting scheme for the
    crown-of-thorns starfish, and Eye on the Reef
    where tourism operators report on their daily
    reef observations.

Active Partnerships
  • Stakeholder participation will continue to be an
    important component of marine tourism management.
  • Formal processes for consultation with the
    tourism industry are being established through
    the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators
    (AMPTO), and mechanisms for community
    consultation are already established through
    coastal Local Marine Advisory Committees with
    representation from a wide range of stakeholder
    groups. In addition, the new expertise-based Reef
    Advisory Committees are to be established by the
    Authority will advise on key issues related to
    Tourism and Recreation in the Marine Park.
  • The Great Barrier Reef Consultative Committee
    will continue to fill a strategic advisory role
    to the Minister and the Authority.

Environmental Management Charge
  • Marine Park tourism operators are subject to an
    Environmental Management Charge which is
    currently equivalent to 4 per visitor per day
    for standard tourist operations such as day
    trips, extended charters and bareboat hire. The
    charge applies to all operators who hold Marine
    Park permits.
  • Commercial operators are required to keep a
    logbook of operations and must supply quarterly

Fish Feeding
  • Fish Feeding in a tourism operation should be
    well supervised and conducted only by staff
  • Avoid feeding fish where fishing takes place
  • Fish should be fed by throwing food into the
    water, not directly by hand.
  • People should not be in the water at the time of
  • Feed fish with only raw marine products or fish
  • Use no more than one kilogram of food per day per

  • Take only what you need and stick to official
  • If you intend keeping a fish, remove it from the
    hook or net quickly and humanely.
  • Return all undersized or unwanted fish to the
    water carefully and quickly.
  • Avoid fishing where fish feeding takes place.
  • Avoid fishing in areas where fish are gathering
    to spawn.

Whale Dolphin Watching
  • Avoid all contact with whales with calves.
  • If there is a sudden change in whale behaviour,
    move away.
  • Report sick, injured or stranded whales or
    dolphins to a relevant authority.
  • Use commercial whale watching vessels where
    possible rather than private vessels.

Diving and Snorkeling
  • Check you are weighted correctly before diving
    and practice buoyancy control away from coral.
  • Secure dragging diving equipment such as gauges.
  • Do not rest or stand on coral.
  • Take extra care when taking underwater
  • Avoid touching anything with your fins and try
    not to disturb sediment or coral. If you need to
    rest while snorkeling, try to use the rest
    stations where provided.
  • Observe animals rather than handle them. Handling
    some animals may be dangerous.
  • Do not chase or attempt to ride or grab
    free-swimming animals and avoid blocking their
  • Do not prod any plants or animals.
  • If you pick up anything under water (living or
    dead), always return it to exactly the same

Reef Walking
  • Be careful not to step on coral or living matter.
  • Follow marked trails and avoid straying.
  • If there is no marked trail, locate regularly
    used routes or follow sand channels.
  • Use a pole or a stick for balance, not to poke
  • If you pick up anything, living or dead, always
    return it to the exact position where you found
  • Do not pick up species which are attached to the
    reef flat.
  • Be aware of restrictions on collecting in the
    Marine Park.

Turtle Watching
  • Keep lighting to a minimum.
  • Lights should be no more than a three-volt,
    two-cell, hand-held torch.
  • Do not approach closely or shine lights on
    turtles leaving the water or moving up the beach.
  • Avoid shining lights directly on the turtle
    during egg laying.
  • Avoid loud noise and sudden movements.
  • Keep dogs away. Dogs are not permitted in
    National Parks or on most beach areas.
  • Do not light campfires on turtle nesting beaches.
  • Report the place and date of turtle sightings to
    the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services.

Anchoring or Mooring
  • Carry enough chain or chain and line for the
  • Check out the area before anchoring.
  • Anchor in sand or mud away from corals.
  • Motor towards the anchor when hauling in.
  • Use approved public moorings in preference to
    anchoring. Public moorings are marked by white or
    blue buoys, identified by Marine Parks stickers
    which state limits of use.
  • Before using public moorings, read and follow the
    advice given on an information disc attached to
    the mooring pick-up line.

Commercial Fishing
  • Under offshore constitutional settlement between
    the Australian States and the Australian
    Government, the management of fisheries within
    the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is the
    responsibility of the Queensland Government
    through the Queensland Fisheries Management
    Authority and the Queensland Department of
    Primary Industries.
  • The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, in
    its aim to protect the natural qualities of the
    Great Barrier Reef whilst providing for
    reasonable use of the Region, contributes to
    fisheries management through the use of
    management zones which restrict fishing
    activities, and also through involvement in
    fisheries management planning conducted by the
    Queensland Government.

Commercial Fishing
  • Through collaboration with fisheries management
    agencies and stakeholders, the Authority will
    seek to
  • Minimize ecological impact through the
    restriction, cessation or mandatory adoption of
    new technologies to minimize ecological damage of
    those fishing activities that can be judged,
    using the best available information, to be
    significantly damaging the ecosystems
  • Establish a comprehensive system of protected
    areas that are representative of the complex
    range of ecological communities found in the
    Marine Park.
  • Ensure adequate monitoring and assessment are
    undertaken to determine the impacts of fishing
    activities and the status of harvested stocks,
    non-target species and the ecosystems on which
    they depend
  • Undertake and sponsor research designed to
    quantify the ecological impact of fishing
    activities judged to be ecologically damaging
  • Ensure that ecologically sustainable fishing
    activities are managed in a way that is
    maintained in perpetuity.

Zoning Plans
  • One of the primary tools for protecting and
    preserving the Great Barrier Reef, as specified
    by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975,
    is zoning. Zoning separates activities that may
    conflict with each other, such as commercial
    fishing and tourism. Zoning also allows areas
    that need permanent conservation to be protected
    from potentially threatening processes by being
    placed off limits to users (except for the
    purpose of scientific research) for varying
    lengths of time.
  • Marine Park zoning plans are not dissimilar to
    planning schemes prepared for local government
    areas. For example, zoning plans provide for
    activities that are as-of-right, with permission
    or prohibited. Each zone category specifies which
    activities can or cannot be undertaken and
    whether or not permission is required to
    undertake those activities.

Zoning Plans
  • The principle objectives of any zoning plan
    (according to sec. 32(7) of the Act) are
  • a. the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef
  • b. the regulation of the use of the Marine Park
    so as to protect the Great Barrier Reef while
    allowing reasonable use of the Great Barrier Reef
  • c. the regulation of activities that exploit the
    resources of the Great Barrier Reef Region so as
    to minimise the effect of those activities on the
    Great Barrier Reef
  • d. the reservation of some areas of the Great
    Barrier Reef for its appreciation and enjoyment
    by the public and
  • e. the preservation of some areas of the Great
    Barrier Reef in its natural state undisturbed by
    man except for the purposes of scientific

Types of Zones
  • General Use 'A' Zone
  • The least restrictive of the zones, this provides
    for all reasonable uses including shipping and
    trawling. Prohibited activities are mining, oil
    drilling, commercial spearfishing and
    spearfishing with underwater breathing apparatus.
  • General Use 'B' Zone
  • Provides for reasonable use, including most
    commercial and recreational activities. Trawling
    and general shipping are prohibited as well as
    those activities not allowed in General Use 'A'

Types of Zones
  • General Use Zone
  • Provides areas of Marine Parks for a diverse
    range of recreational and commercial activities,
    consistent with the Region's long term
  • Marine National Park 'A' Zone
  • Provides for appreciation and recreational use,
    including limited line fishing. Fishing is
    restricted to one line with one hook per person.
    (When trolling for pelagic species more than one
    line may be used.) Spearfishing and collecting
    are prohibited, as well as those activities not
    allowed in General Use 'B' Zone.

Types of Zones
  • Habitat Protection Zone
  • Provides areas of Marine Parks free from the
    effects of trawling, while allowing for a diverse
    range of recreational and commercial activities.
  • Estuarine Conservation Zone
  • Provides for estuarine areas free from loss of
    vegetation and disturbance and from changes to
    the natural tidal flushing regime, while
    maintaining opportunities for commercial and
    recreational activities.
  • Conservation Park Zone
  • Provides areas of Marine Parks which allow
    opportunities for their appreciation and
    enjoyment including limited recreational fishing.

Types of Zones
  • Marine National Park 'B' Zone
  • Provides for appreciation and enjoyment of areas
    in their relatively undisturbed state. It is a
    'look but don't take' zone. Fishing and all other
    activities which remove natural resources are
  • Marine National Park Buffer Zone
  • Normally 500 metres wide, this zone provides for
    trolling for pelagic species around reefs which
    have been given a level of protection which
    prohibits all fishing. Trolling for pelagic
    species is unlikely to significantly affect the
    'resident' marine life for which protection is
  • Buffer Zone
  • Provides protected areas of Marine Parks and
    allows opportunities for their appreciation and
    enjoyment. Buffer Zones allow mackerel trolling
    in areas adjacent to reefs zoned as National

Types of Zones
  • National Park Zone
  • Provides protected areas of Marine Parks of high
    cons - a 'look but don't take' area.
  • Scientific Research Zone
  • Set aside exclusively for scientific research.
    Entry and use for other reasons is prohibited.
  • Preservation Zone
  • Provides for the preservation of the area in an
    undisturbed state. All entry is prohibited,
    except in an emergency, with the exception of
    permitted scientific research which cannot be
    conducted elsewhere.

(No Transcript)
  • As a general guide, the following activities
    require a Marine Parks permit.
  • Most commercial activities, including tourist
  • Installation and operation of structures, such as
    jetties, marinas, pontoons and mariculture
  • Any works, such as repairs to structures,
    dredging and dumping, placement and operation of
  • Anchoring or mooring for an extended period
  • Waste discharge from a fixed structure
  • Research
  • Educational programs
  • Traditional hunting.
  • Most visitors to the Marine Park will not require
    a permit for recreational activities.

Steps in the Permitting Process
  • In order to be granted a permit to undertake an
    activity, an application must be submitted to the
    Authority or the Queensland Parks and Wildlife
    Service. It should provide enough information so
    permit assessors can clearly understand what the
    intended activity is and where it is to be
    carried out.
  • Furnishing false or misleading information in a
    permit application is an offence and can incur a
    1000 fine. An application for a Marine Parks
    permit to conduct commercial activities requires
    the payment of a Permit Application Assessment
    Fee (PAAF). The fee varies depending on the type
    of operation.

Crown of Thorns
  • In the absence of definitive information about
    whether crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks are
    natural, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
    Authority has adopted a policy of minimum
  • This means that there is no interference with
    crown-of-thorns starfish populations on a large
  • However, small-scale control programs may be
    permitted by the Authority in areas of tourism or
    scientific importance threatened by
    crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks.

Crown of Thorns
  • Sodium bisulphate (also known as 'dry acid') has
    been identified as an effective, environmentally
    acceptable agent to kill crown-of-thorns starfish
    on a local scale.
  • It is biodegradable and does not affect other
    plants and animals on the reef. The chemical is
    applied by direct injection into the tissues of
    the crown-of-thorns starfish.
  • Because of the uncertainty about the causes of
    outbreaks, it is of vital importance that the
    waxing and waning of crown-of-thorns starfish
    populations and their effects on coral reefs are
    closely monitored. This may allow us to further
    understand whether or not these effects are
    sustainable in the long term.

Crown of Thorns
  • Currently, there are three major monitoring
    programs of crown-of-thorns starfish populations.
  • Broadscale surveys are carried out by the
    Australian Institute of Marine Science using
    observers towed on manta boards. This method
    allows the detection of major crown-of-thorns
    starfish outbreaks and simultaneous observations
    of coral cover. These surveys have been carried
    out every year since 1985-86 on reefs spread
    throughout the World Heritage Area.

Crown of Thorns
  • Fine-scale surveys are carried out by the
    Cooperative Research Centre for Ecologically
    Sustainable Development of the Great Barrier
  • These surveys use scuba divers to closely inspect
    the reef surface, allowing detection of much
    smaller sizes and numbers of crown-of-thorns
    starfish than the broadscale surveys.
  • Fine-scale surveys have been carried out since
    1994-95 and have only covered reefs in the Cairns
    and Central Sections of the Great Barrier Reef
    Marine Park.
  • Observations from reef users are reported through
    the COTSWATCH program.
  • This program operates anywhere in the World
    Heritage Area where users go.
  • In 1993, it was the results from the COTSWATCH
    program that initially alerted scientists and
    managers to the build-up of crown-of-thorns
    starfish numbers in the Cairns Section.

Coral bleaching
  • JCU researchers are leading the way in a project
    that aims to research coral bleaching by using
    high frequency radar signals.
  • A new remote sensing instrument that is set to be
    up and running by May 2006, will allow
    researchers to see and predict the ocean's
    movements, without them having to get their feet
  • The radar will help predict in the short term and
    help people to understand the processes better,
    that is, the physical parameters which drive the
    coral bleaching."

Evaluation of Management Strategies
  • Question
  • How would you evaluate the management strategies
    of the GBR?

Evaluation of Management Strategies
  • Intragenerational equity
  • Intergenerational equity

Evaluation of Management Strategies
  • Precautionary approach
  • Multiobjective planning
  • Multidisciplinary approach

Evaluation of Management Strategies
  • Use of technology for management
  • Education

Evaluation of Management Strategies
  • The Management Strategies already in place for
    the Great Barrier Reef are very impressive.
  • However, the GBRMPA requires more funding for
    research so those better management strategies
    can be adopted.
  • The GBRMPA should look into other case studies of
    coral reef death in other areas of the world and
    implement strategies based on best practice.
  • Use of the media for education is another
    possibility in order to increase public knowledge
    and appreciation of the ecosystem.
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