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The Threat of the Great Barrier Reef

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Threats of Great Barrier Reef

1. Natural Element

     1.1. Climate change

Climate change has been becoming one of the biggest long-term threats to the GBR, not only for coral reefs, but also for marine animals. According to the article, “Climate Change Action Plan 2007-2012, due to high sea temperatures, all over the world, many areas such as Maldives, Seychelles and Palau, including the GBR, more than approximately 50% of reefs have been destroyed by coral bleaching. GBR Marine Park Authority (2007) claims that during the period 1998 to 2002, there were a substantial number of coral bleaching events in the GBR and over 50% of the reefs were affected.Fortunately, only 5% of reefs were subjected to permanent damage because the majority of reefs withstood the high temperatures. However, in 2006, there was a more lethal bleaching event which killed approximately 40% of significant corals off Rockhampton around the Keppel Islands.Finally,other marine organisms, such as plankton, seagrass, marine turtles, seabirds, mangroves and fishes are also affected by climate change (GBR Marine Park Authority,2007).

     1.2. Natural disturbances

According to Emslie, Pratchett & Cheal  (Jun2011) natural disturbances which are bleaching, white syndrome disease and outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish are called ‘‘biological’’ disturbances which kill coral but leave their skeletons intact. Consequently, reef fishes are influenced by coral erosion, and all of these results depend on the type, severity and duration of the disturbance. In addition, the article, Effects of disturbance types on butterflyfish communities of Australias Great Barrier Reef, states that these disturbances are significant problems for coral reefs because they can make reefs lose their resilience and their habitats over a long-term (Emsile, Pratchett & Cheal, 2011).

2. Human Activities

      2.1. Illegal fishing and hunting

According to GBR Marine Park Authority (2013), illegal fishing and poaching consisting of fishing in no-take zones, the use of unapproved fishing equipment or methods, the incursion of foreign fishing vessels and hunting against legislative frameworks are another significant threats destroying the GBR. Specifically, referring to the data from the Strategy Assessment Draft Report, there were 305 crimes including fishing collecting and hunting which were reported across the World Heritage Area in 2011-12 (GBR Marine Park Authority, 2013).  

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