Environment Minister Sussan Ley (black wetsuit) snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef off Cairns. CREDIT: Biopixel
Environment Minister Sussan Ley (black wetsuit) snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef off Cairns. CREDIT: Biopixel

Minister denies the Great Barrier Reef is 'dying’

AUSTRALIA'S Environment Minister has declared the Great Barrier Reef is not dead or dying, and it is "not even on life support", after viewing signs of reef recovery in the Far North.

Sussan Ley joined representatives from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch and indigenous rangers to go snorkelling at Moore and Flynn reefs, about 60km off Cairns.

The Minister told reporters yesterday both reefs appeared to be teeming with marine life, and she observed signs of coral recovery after the 2016 and 2017 mass bleaching events.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley snorkels and spots a clown fish on coral at Flynn Reef, off Cairns
Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley snorkels and spots a clown fish on coral at Flynn Reef, off Cairns

"The Reef is not dead, nor is it dying - I wouldn't even say it's on life support," she said.

"What I would say is it's a resilient reef that has faced challenges, and parts of it look smashed.

"I'm not going to pretend that we didn't see areas of the Reef that were struggling.

"But right next to those areas are areas that are regenerating with new coral.

"And the scientists were explaining that some of the coral we could see was only a couple of years old.

"So it's come back since those bleaching events two or three years ago."

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley snorkels and spots a clown fish on coral at Flynn Reef, off Cairns
Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley snorkels and spots a clown fish on coral at Flynn Reef, off Cairns

She acknowledged the effect climate change could have on the natural attraction.

"If we just threw up our hands and said climate change was going to destroy our Reef, sure, that's one way that the government and the people could look at it," she said.

"But it's not. So I'm not downplaying the effect of climate change, and the serious effects, because climate change brings cyclones, it brings intense weather events and may bring bleaching."

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley snorkels and spots a clown fish on coral at Flynn Reef, off Cairns
Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley snorkels and spots a clown fish on coral at Flynn Reef, off Cairns

Mr Entsch, who is the Government's special envoy to the Great Barrier Reef, told reporters coral bleaching was not a new phenomenon.

"It's been happening for millennia," he said.

"There has been a couple of consecutive events, which have proved to be challenging. But as long as we've lived in the tropics there have been cyclones and those cyclonic events certainly have an impact.

"And now, what we didn't know in the past, was much more about the impacts and also we know a lot more about how we need to manage them."



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