Researchers call for reef protection

PRESSURE is mounting on the state and federal governments to protect the Great Barrier Reef with a 2500-strong contingent of environmentalists echoing the international call for action.

Hundreds of the world's top marine researchers are in Cairns this week for the the12th International Coral Reef Symposium.

The annual high-calibre event follows mounting criticism of Australian governments' handling of the world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef.

Last month, UNESCO released a damning report into the effect growing development, and the subsequent increased shipping movements, was having on the reef.

Those in an attendance at the symposium are singing a similar tune.

Symposium convenor Professor Terry Hughes said increasing care for the natural gem would foster a vibrant future for the tourism industry.

"Unfortunately, in Queensland, the rush to get as much fossil fuel out of the ground as quickly as possible before the transition to alternative sources of energy occurs, has pushed environmental concerns far into the background," he said.

"Australia needs to improve governance of the Great Barrier Reef, particularly coastal development and runoff, to avoid being inscribed by UNESCO on the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger."

Last month, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee threatened to put the Great Barrier Reef on the danger list if the federal and state governments didn't step up their environmental protection, including not allowing any further developments outside of existing ports.

More than 2500 researchers released a consensus statement on Monday urging global governments to ensure local protection of coral reefs and reduce greenhouse gases.

The symposium wraps up on Friday. 


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