posted at 18:50
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Plan wont save Great Barrier Reef: Australian scientists
The draft plan, released for consultation last month, was supposed to allay concerns by the United Nations about the reef's health after UNESCO threatened to put it on the World Heritage "In danger" list. Environment Minister Greg Hunt has said the proposal reflects an effort to balance the priorities of protecting the reef, which is teeming with marine life, and long-term sustainable development. "The science is clear, the reef is degraded and its condition is worsening. This is a plan that won't restore the reef, it won't even maintain it in its already diminished state," academy fellow Terry Hughes said. "The plan also seems overly focussed on the short-term task of addressing UNESCO's concerns about the reef's World Heritage Listing, rather than the longer-term challenges of restoring the values of the reef." The survival of the reef was reliant on a reduction in pollution from run-off and dredging, less fishing and a decrease in carbon emissions from fossil fuels, he said. The draft plan calls for greater coordination between authorities in relation to the reef, a proposal welcomed by environmentalists. It bans future port developments in the Fitzroy Delta, Keppel Bay and North Curtis Island near Rockhampton - areas of the reef described by environmentalists as key incubators of marine life. Environmentalists have criticised the draft as not setting high enough targets for cutting agricultural pollution or providing the billions of dollars required to restore the health of the reef.

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