Media Release, Tuesday 23 April 2002

Four Corners warns: Great Barrier Reef in peril.
Is Ningaloo next?

Last night, in a program entitled “Beautiful one day...,” ABC Four Corners described how the Great Barrier Reef could follow other reefs around the world and become a “marine desert.” It highlighted the pressures on the Reef from a combination of human and natural causes.

Coral can be smothered by sedimentation, choked on algae from nutrient-rich sewage and fertilizer run-off, and otherwise damaged through inappropriate tourism and over-fishing. The Reef is also being impacted by global warming and El Nino which can cause corals to ‘bleach’ and die after prolonged exposure to warm water.

The program confirms the recent warnings about the plight of coral reefs from leading research institutions such as the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the esteemed journal, Science. Coral reefs were placed in the “Unfavourable News” section of the Australia: State of the Environment (SoE) report tabled last month in Federal Parliament because they are under increasing stress from human activities, including “pressure for tourism developments.”

Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia received special mention in the SoE report as an almost pristine reef because “it is a very lightly populated coastline.” The report identified reducing the impacts of human activities on coral reefs as one of Australia’s most pressing environmental challenges.

Paul Gamblin, Save Ningaloo campaign spokesperson, said, “At a time when some of the world’s leading researchers are warning us about the decline of coral reefs, it is incomprehensible that the State Government could even consider approving a large marina resort for Ningaloo Reef. Unfortunately, it is faced with a development from the 1980s that was promoted by previous Governments in the absence of proper planning or community input.”

“Ningaloo is gaining worldwide recognition as one of the world’s last pristine coral reefs so we must do everything we can to protect it. Many scientists and local tour operators believe that the marina resort proposed for Ningaloo will damage the Reef.”

“The developers keep trying to claim that the marina will help the environment by solving existing problems at Coral Bay. This argument is seriously flawed - solutions to Coral Bay’s infrastructure problems are available and have been waiting on the go-ahead from Government for years.”

Conservation Council of WA Australian Wildlife Consevancy The Wilderness Society Australian Marine Conservation Society

Contact: Paul Gamblin, Save Ningaloo campaign spokesperson,


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