Australia Launches Monitoring Program to Protect Great Barrier Reef

CANBERRA

The Australian government has launched a monitoring program – Eye on the Reef – that will engage an army of volunteers to help protect the iconic Great Barrier Reef, Environment Minister Tony Burke announced.

He said the integrated program is a free mobile technology app that allows people to send in real-time sightings of marine animals while they’re still out on the Reef and contribute to its long-term protection.

Eye on the Reef was developed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority as a partnership between government, scientists, the tourism industry, Marine Park rangers and other reef users.

The expanded program brings together one new and four existing assessment and monitoring programs that collect valuable information about reef health, marine animals and incidents.

All of the reports made through these programs are combined in a single data management and reporting system, offering up-to-date information on the health of the Reef and the distribution of protected and iconic species.

It provides snapshots of what’s happening on the reef at a single point in time, comparative trend data over time, and early warnings of negative impacts such as crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks.

“The Great Barrier Reef is an iconic Australian environmental asset and the Australian Government is absolutely committed to the protection of the reef and our oceans,” Tony Burke said.

A UNESCO report, released earlier this month, which warned that the reef could be listed as a World Heritage site in danger unless Australia makes substantial changes to its supervision of the area.

According to the report, the adverse listing could go ahead if the Australian government does not convince the international body it has improved its performance before February next year.

The report urged Australia not to permit the building of ports separate to existing ones near the reef and asks for a strategic assessment of the entire area, implying that new developments should be held up until that report is complete.

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