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Great Barrier Reef


Great Barrier Reef Threats and Sustainable Management Great Barrier Reef - Facts Located off coast of Queensland, Australia Largest collection of reefs in the world ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef
  • Threats and Sustainable Management

Great Barrier Reef - Facts
  • Located off coast of Queensland, Australia
  • Largest collection of reefs in the world
  • Home to wide variety of fish, seagrasses, coral
    and other invertebrate species
  • GBR World Heritage Area is the largest in the
  • Covers 30 million hectares

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GBR - Threats
  • Sedimentation and nutrient run-off
  • Commercial shipping
  • Commercial fishing
  • Crown of Thorns starfish
  • Global warming and coral bleaching

GBR - Management
  • To preserve environment asset, reef must be
    carefully managed!
  • Sustainable Management
  • The use of components of biological diversity in
    a way and at a rate that does not lead to the
    long term decline of biological diversity,
    thereby maintaining its potential to meet the
    needs and aspirations of present and future
    generations (Reichelt 2005, p. 7)

Ningaloo Reef vs. GBR
  • Located off coast of Western Australia, near
  • Extends over 260 kilometers
  • Are management plans from the GBR transferable to
    Ningaloo Reef?

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Terrestrial Inputs
  • Increased sedimentation is a result of human
    activity - land clearing, agriculture, urban
    development and industry
  • Riverine discharge dominated by flood events
    resulting from cyclones and monsoons
  • Estimated 15-28 tons of sediment deposited into
    the lagoon annually (Haynes 2001)
  • Largest discharges originate from the Burdekin
    and Fitzroy catchments

The Great Barrier Reef and its
catchments (Productivity Commission 2003)
Terrestrial Inputs Croplands and Grazing
  • Croplands responsible for the greatest impacts on
    sediment yield
  • Major crops sugarcane, mangoes, bananas,
    lychees, tomatoes and cotton sugarcane being the
  • Nitrogen and phosphorus are associated with
    fertiliser use, much of which is not absorbed and
    reaches the lagoon
  • Elevated nutrient levels promote phytoplankton
    growth, encourage macro algae blooms, and results
    in weakened coral skeletons
  • Cattle grazing - largest single use of land
  • Woodland and vegetation clearing contribute to
    run-off, overgrazing worsens erosion

Terrestrial Inputs Turbidity and Flood Plumes
  • Turbidity smothers corals and reduces light
    availability - adversely affects algae symbionts
    and seagrass beds
  • Freshwater plumes lower salinity causing stress
    on coral resulting in excessive mucous release
    and loss of zooxanthellae
  • Agricultural and urban storm and waste water
    carry unnatural quantities of heavy metals into
  • Potentially toxic and can cause growth and
    reproductive problems

Terrestrial Inputs Land Management
  • Avoid further clearing of coastal wetlands and
    riparian vegetation
  • Maintain fringing vegetation along stream and
    river banks
  • Improved farming and grazing practices will lead
    to improved water quality

Terrestrial Inputs Land Management
  • CANEGROWERS Code of Practice for Sustainable Cane
  • Fertiliser application, soil management, native
    vegetation, irrigation and drainage
  • Green cane harvesting/trash blanketing - used by
    majority of cane growers in GBR catchment
  • Grazing
  • Spelling -Rotation of grazing pastures in order
    to maintain adequate ground cover

Terrestrial Inputs Ningaloo
  • Not currently under the same pressure as the GBR
    due to sparsely populated coastline
  • Unless restrictions are established, development
    of the coastal region and increases in population
    will lead Ningaloo to face similar threats

Shipping in the GBR
  • Several major international shipping routes
    intersect the region
  • Cargo includes bauxite, alumina, manganese, iron
    ore, general container freight and oil
  • 2500 ships transit the GBR every year
  • (Hugget et al. 2001)

GBRWHA Principal Shipping Routes (Great Barrier
Reef Marine Park Authority 1998)
Impact of Shipping in the GBR
  • Accidental Pollutants
  • result from grounding, collision or structural
  • oil or other noxious chemical
  • potential to cause serious environmental damage
  • Operational Pollutants
  • result from day-to-day operation
  • waste products
  • e.g. oil, sewage, garbage and greenhouse
  • antifoulants from hull paints
  • toxic to many marine organisms
  • introduce marine pests from ballast water

Management of GBR Shipping
  • implemented through International Maritime
    Organisation (IMO)
  • MARPOL (73/78)
  • world's first Particularly Sensitive Sea Area in
  • compulsory pilotage
  • mandatory vessel reporting system (REEFREP)

Future of GBR Shipping
  • grounding MV Carola, MV Peacock and MV New Reach
    demonstrate grounding potential is not eliminated
  • areas deemed high risk remote from established
    stockpiles of response equipment

Ningaloo vs. GBR Shipping Density
Fisheries at the GBR
  • There are many important recreational and
    commercial fisheries at the GBR
  • Fisheries at the GBR
  • Prawns, scallops, reef fish, rock lobster and sea

Environmental Impacts of Fisheries
  • Fishing affects coral reefs directly and
  • Directly
  • Reduces abundances of target and non-target
  • Trawling and dredging destroy benthos
  • Indirectly
  • Impacts on biological interactions
  • Affects the whole ecosystem

Management of Fisheries in GBR
  • Management based on input restrictions eg. gear
    specifications, bag limits
  • Queensland DPIF has effectively reduced fishing
    effort while maintaining catch levels
  • Zoning is used
  • 6 different zones are used
  • 33 of the GBRMP is no-take areas
  • This management was introduced to help depleted
    species recover

Management of Fisheries in GBR
  • Sustainable management is currently occurring
  • Further improvements could be to change the focus
    from single species management to ecosystem
    based approaches

Crown of Thorns Starfish
  • COTS widespread throughout GBR
  • Reddish brown echinoderm
  • Only venemous seastar
  • Typically 1ft. in diameter
  • Feeds on live hard coral mainly branching
    tubular and staghorn coral (Aeropora)
  • Prefers to live in deep water along reef fronts

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How COTS Affect GBR
  • Individual COTS consumes 2-6 sq. m coral/year
  • Populations can grow faster then coral growth
    leads to extensive loss of coral
  • Indirectly affects other organisms
  • Substantial coral deaths in the GBR since 1960s
  • Since then many outbreaks have occurred as COTS
    have spread southwards along the coast via

What causes COTS Outbreaks
  • Not known what the major cause of COT growth
  • Nutrients released via land runoff from human
    activities increase phytoplankton (important COTS
    food source)
  • Fishing and shell collecting has decreased COTS

What is Being Done?
  • Extensive surveying of COTS have occurred in many
    sections of the GBR since 1985
  • Most tourism sites have control systems in place
    for COTS
  • Divers inject deadly Soduim Sulphate solutions
    into COTS tissues
  • -doesnt affect other species
  • COTS exist in natural numbers in Ningaloo off
    Dampier may be a threat in the future

Global Warming - Threat
  • Elevated levels of greenhouse gases in the
    atmosphere ? global climate change
  • The worlds oceans are a sink for atmospheric CO2
  • GBR ? elevated sea surface temperatures, caused
    by El Niño Southern Oscillation events

Global Warming - Impact
  • Increased CO2 in water ? dissolution and
    weakening of coral skeleton
  • Elevated SSTs ? corals become stressed, expel
    some zooxanthellae, and are bleached
  • 1998 worldwide mass coral bleaching event
  • - Approximately 87 of the inshore reefs of the
    GBR were affected
  • - Pacific, Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Persian Gulf,
    Mediterranean, Caribbean regions AND Ningaloo Reef


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Global Warming - Management
  • Cannot be managed on site GBR
  • Global problem global responsibility
  • Coral bleaching canary to the coal mine is
    the destruction of coral reefs an indication of
    the damage that could be caused by global climate
    change in the future?

GBR - Review
Prioritised Threat GBR Impacts Is the problem transferable to Ningaloo?
1. Terrestrial Inputs Much of the GBR area, particularly the inner fringing reefs are under threat Not at this stage, as the land adjacent to the reef is very sparsely populated and underdeveloped
2. Shipping and boating Localised damage, and has the potential to harm a large area in the event of an accident, but is being well managed Yes, but shipping density around Ningaloo is low in comparison with the GBR
3. Fishing Over-removal of certain species and altering of the dynamics between marine species Yes, although the tourism industry is not as developed for Ningaloo
4. Crown of Thorns Starfish Can cause irreversible damage but is localised Yes, as although COTS exist at Ningaloo in natural numbers currently, outbreak is possible
5. Global Warming Risk of coral bleaching wiping out population. Rates lowest due to it being a worldwide problem its management cannot be handled exclusively at the GBR. Yes, problem is being faced internationally. Consequences are applicable at Ningaloo as well.
  • Extremely important environmental feature under
  • Needs to be better managed
  • Possible with better administration and tougher
  • Sustaining of the reef is a viable future!