Category Archives: System of Coral Reefs

Saving the Great Barrier Reef Comes with a Hefty Price Tag

Located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest system of coral reefs in the world. It encompasses 2,900 reefs and 900 islands, stretching over 1,400 miles. This system supports numerous forms of wildlife, many of which are vulnerable and endangered species, including thirty species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Without the reef, many of these species would become extinct. The reef is an important part of an entire ecosystem. Unfortunately, this natural wonder is under threat from climate change and human impact, such as over-fishing and pollution. Saving this natural gem is going to come at a price.

According to the Huffington Post, the Great Barrier Reef is going through the worst-ever recorded coral bleaching event. In fact, ninety percent of the reef has been affected, and one-third of the coral has been killed. Bleaching occurs when the coral becomes stressed; it is theorized to be a defense mechanism. Coral bleaching is usually the result of increased water temperatures in the ocean, which are currently being caused by climate change. In order to help save the Great Barrier Reef, drastic measures are going to need to be taken. As of right now, the Queensland government has agreed, in principle, to all measures established by the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Task Force report, which will end up costing the government $6.3 billion over the next decade.

The majority of these costs come from cutting the sedimentation load caused by runoff from various basins in half. $4.94 billion, alone, is set to go towards reducing the sediment runoff from the Fitzroy Basin. In addition to reducing sediment runoff, another goal established by the report is to reduce nitrogen pollution by eighty percent. The Queensland government is willing to spend this money to not only help preserve this natural wonder, but to help maintain a major source of income for the area.

The Great Barrier Reef brings in an estimated $4.59 billion annually to the area. In addition, it is responsible for employing over 70,000 people. The destruction of the Great Barrier Reef would be a huge economic loss for Queensland. By helping to improve water quality in the area, Queensland hopes to preserve the reef, its inhabitants, and their economy.