The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has found severe bleaching in offshore reefs between Ingham and Cairns after flying over the Reef last week. More flights will be conducted again this week. GBRMPA has advised that local weather conditions over the next few weeks will determine how this event unfolds.
The central part of the Reef being impacted in recent weeks escaped the widespread severe bleaching experienced in the northern section of the Great Barrier Reef last year. GBRMPA has made it clear that not all bleached coral will die. As experienced last year, bleaching and mortality can be highly variable across the 344,000 square kilometre Marine Park — an area the size or Japan.
Tropical North Queensland’s tourism industry has done a great job of nurturing and showcasing this World Heritage asset to the world, but we now need a hand and that is why the concept for Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef was conceived two years ago. We want to work with educators and scientists through Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef to engage people and businesses around the world to act to protect the Reef.
Citizens will encourage people to tread lightly on our planet and make sure we look after the Great Barrier Reef for generations to come. I will continue in my role as chair of Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation which is ably being led by Chief Executive Officer Andy Ridley as we move closer to a launch date in the middle of the year.
The Foundation will:
- Support projects that have a direct impact on the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.
- Inform, educate and inspire people around the world to get involved, to share, enjoy and advocate for the Great Barrier Reef.
- Develop and promote tangible actions with brands, communities and industry sectors that accelerate the transition from a linear economy to an economy that decouples wasteful use of resources from prosperity (a circulate economy).
While the scientists monitor the health of the Great Barrier Reef, we need to continue as an industry to do our job of nurturing and showcasing this World Heritage area. Contribute to GBRMPA’s Eye on the Reef program to make sure the scientists have a clear picture of what the Great Barrier Reef looks like today.
We also need to show that visitors can enjoy the Great Barrier Reef even while it faces the challenge of warmer temperatures. The Great Barrier Reef Today initiative is continuing this year with Quicksilver and Sunlover interviewing passengers as they disembark to talk about the fabulous experiences they are having, even while the Reef is under stress. Here’s what guests who travelled to Agincourt Reef on Quicksilver on March 9 thought: https://youtu.be/5iFLVgBEeyg
I encourage all marine operators to source and feed real-time testimonial content to TTNQ to share with Tourism and Events Queensland and Tourism Australia and the world. Use your social media channels, mainstream media and your networks to show the reality of what is happening where you operate. Let the world know that Tropical North Queensland’s highly accredited operators are taking action to nurture the Reef and are regularly showing visitors the kaleidoscope of colour that the Great Barrier Reef is known for.
Alex de Waal
Chief Executive Officer