On The Land

10 December, 2022

AgForce opposes flawed reef report

AGFORCE is stepping up calls for a national Office of Science Quality Assurance, following the release of a flawed report that recommends the Great Barrier Reef be listed as “in danger”.

Tanya Puntti |
Tanya Puntti |

The UNESCO report urges “ambitious, rapid and sustained” action on climate change to protect the Reef, and recommends a review of native vegetation clearing of non-remnant areas with increased regulations across Reef areas.

It has paved the way for activists to again blame agriculture runoff for coral deaths.

Saddened by this latest attack, AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said the organisation strongly opposed the report’s recommendation and said the only way forward was to establish an inde-pendent office to ensure the science that underpins Reef regulations is up to date.

“It’s disappointing to see that reef management has been hijacked yet again by climate change activists seeking to vilify farmers,” he said.

“No one understands the importance of protecting the reef better than farmers in reef catchments.

“However, the reality of the situation is that the reef is in good condition and showing resilience.

“According to the Australian Institute of Ma-rine Science’s long term monitoring program, hard coral cover is at a 36-year high across two-thirds of the Reef.

“What’s more, land clearing in reef catchments is not a risk either, with three of the six catchments showing more than 70 per cent remnant vegetation, according to State Government SLATS data from 2019.

“It’s high time the anti-agriculture brigade stopped cherry picking the science and jumping on every flawed report in order to spread lies about farmers.”

The latest research from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) confirms the biggest impacts to Reef health are rising ocean temperatures due to climate change, damaging tropical cyclones, and crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks - not agriculture runoff.

Water quality science conducted by TropWater at James Cook University has proven suspended sediment settles out in river deltas and along inner shore reefs within 60km of the coastline - it doesn’t even reach mid and outer coral reefs.

Emerging Reef science has also shown there are multiple natural sources of nitrogen in water-courses, and fertiliser use is a very small component of nutrient sources.

In addition, the UNESCO report has totally ignored the influence of tidal currents moving warm ocean water around. Ocean currents are not human-induced, they are part of international weather systems.

The 2022 independent review of the State Government's Reef Scientific Consensus Statement is now underway, with the final report due for release in April 2023.

AgForce believes The World Heritage Committee should consider this evidence-based scientific report while deliberating about the condition of the Reef World Heritage area


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