Episode 13 – 3 August The Great barrier Reef and local ocean news….

I think you all know The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, blessed with breathtaking beauty, is the world’s largest coral reef.  It’s also one of the seven wonders of the natural world, and the only living thing on earth visible from space. It’s truly remarkable! But there’s great concern as the shrinking coral and failing government may land the reef on a “list of shame”.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science report

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  concluded that the reef had lost half of its coral cover during the past 27 years. It has been battered by storms, faces global challenges like warming temperatures, as well as more localized problems like water-fouling runoff pollution, coastal port development, dredging, and increased shipping because of a booming local coal industry. The World Heritage Centre and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature(IUCN) did a comprehensive report on the state of the reef’s conservation last March. The group made a series of recommendations, and officially requested that Australia revamp plans to manage the reef. But thus far the response of Australian authorities appears to have fallen far short, especially in terms of water quality improvements and coastal development.

WWF-Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society  released their own scorecard grading the governments’ plans, progress, and management of the  Great Barrier Reef. Both the Australian and Queensland authorities earned failing grades. And Australia’s recent Energy White Paper would instead grow both coal and gas exports, and produce more than double the number of ship docking’s by 2020.

I think this challenge with regards to the Great Barrier Reef is a good example of the type of problems we are going face again and again on the planet, environment versus development. I don’t want to blindly fight for either side but history has shown that development tends to win most battles. But it’s crunch time now on the planet, so whether it’s for reefs or forests or oceans, I just want it to be a fair fight!

But on the brighter side, we can be proud as South Africa does take ocean conservation seriously. Marine protected areas (MPA’s) also known as marine parks, form part of a commitment to protect the natural environment in much the same way that nature reserves and national parks protect examples of terrestrial habitat types. There are 21 marine protected areas (MPA’s) in South Africa which form the backbone of South Africa’s marine conservation strategy and are augmented by comprehensive fishery regulations and controls on pollution, shipping and mining.

The concept of “no take” is important in South African MPA’s. Eight of the 21 MPAs are completely “no take” areas. This is great news and least we know we are moving in the right direction!

Have you ever heard of an Eco-Friendly Shark barrier?

Researchers from Stellenbosch University believe they have found a new way to protect humans against shark attacks, while also protecting South Africa’s dwindling shark population. The team is using the sharks’ natural aversions in their design, like the Zambezi sharks’ sensitivity to strong, permanent magnetic fields, as well as white sharks’ dislike of kelp. Using these concepts they developed a patent consisting of a rigid upright pipe, which resembles kelp when it floats in the water. The structure also contains magnets to be effective against certain shark species. The pipes are anchored to the seabed and stand upright up to the height of the water level during high tide. Researchers are hoping the new shark barrier could replace beach nets.

According to experts, beach nets are the main cause of the steep decline in the number of some shark species, a decrease of up to 90% in the last 20 years has been recorded and as the new barrier deters sharks – but don’t kill them –  it may result in fewer deaths.

The shark barriers are currently being tested near Dyer Island, off the coast at Gans Bay. For more info…

 

What are your thoughts on “environment vs development”? 

 

And remember, take care of the earth and she will take care of you.