Australia's Great Barrier Reef is one of the major drivers of international visitors.
Australia's Great Barrier Reef is one of the major drivers of international visitors. Darren Jew

We must unite to save Great Barrier Reef

THE Great Barrier Reef is the jewel in Australia's crown, and it's one that is not in great shape.

In fact it's probably not too wrong that there are moves to place it on the World Heritage 'in danger' list.

In an effort to ensure the long-term future of the reef, WWF and the Australian Marine Conservation Society launched a new campaign: Save the reef.

This move could well be the start of something big, and it could well unite people to make sure our reef does not disappear in a pile of dead coral.

But one thing we need to be sure about is that the campaign is not taken over by well-meaning folk with a single purpose - to target shipping and industrial development.

Conservationists and industrial concerns must make steps to ensure that they work alongside each other for the common good - rather than engaging in a 'he said, they said' argument, which tends to polarise all parties.

There will be a way that both parties can work together on a united front.

Find out more information by looking at the World Heritage Information Kit here

Ten recommendations by the environmental groups to the state and federal government

1. Commit at least $500 million over the next four years towards programs to reversing the decline in water quality in the reef.

2. Stop any future construction of new ports and support a review of existing port boundaries to exclude areas of importance to protecting the reef's integrity.

3. Protect sensitive and undeveloped areas of the reef's coastline including the Fitzroy River delta and Cape York through strict planning regimes.

4. Stop dredging and dumping on the reef's seabed, the feeding and breeding ground of sensitive species.

5. Manage existing ports like Gladstone to world heritage standards and conduct independent reviews.

6. Limit ship numbers and anchorages, require all ballast water to be treated and ensure all ships employ Australian-registered pilots to prevent collisions and groundings.

7. Make all ships and ship lanes safer to prevent accidents.

8. Commit to retaining federal approval powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act for matters of national environmental significance.

9. Commit significant funds to repair the reef and its critical coastal ecosystem so that conservation targets are met that reflect the reef's former condition when listed as world heritage in 1981.

10. Complete a strategic assessment and a sustainable development plan by 2015 that delivers effective planning laws to safeguard the future of the reef.