According to the latest report of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), environmental protection policies have been barely beneficial. The conditions in the reef have worsened since the last study conducted in 2009.
The main threats to its existence remain to be coastal developments and climate change. The combined effects of both factors are wreaking havoc on this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
According to the latest study, the reef is under great pressure and is struggling to survive in hostile conditions of polluted ocean water and global warming. Pollutants from the coastal area percolate the ocean water, which bleaches the corals and causes severe harm to aquatic life.
"The overall outlook for the Great Barrier Reef is poor. It has worsened since 2009 and is expected to further deteriorate in the future," the GBRMPA warns. "Greater reductions of all threats at all levels, reef-wide, regional and local, are required to prevent the projected declines in the Great Barrier Reef and to improve its capacity to recover."
The government of Australia was apparently in denial until the GBRMPA's report. Just two weeks ago, Greg Hunt, federal environment minister, assured the world that the reef is in good shape and does not face any serious threat.
The controversial coal mine that is being established in the area will also have serious environmental implications. Despite the uproar of its hazardous effects on the adjoining environment and the reef, Hunt claimed earlier that the "mine is no issue for the reef."
However, he had no sufficient answer when asked about the implications of the rise in temperature due to the mine. It is however obvious that once the mine becomes operational, millions of tonnes of dredged soil will be dumped within the marine park every year, which will further worsen the situation.
Since the GBRMPA report was published, the government has began showing grave concern for the World Heritage Site. "The basic position I think is this: what you see when you read the reports today is a mixture of pressure and progress, and the pressure is real." Hunt told ABC, "I don't think we should understate that."
Hunt who was advocating the government's environmental policies previously now seems intimadated by this monumental problem of reef protection. The world is surely keeping an eye on Australia's efforts to protect its heritage.