Environment groups say little done to save Barrier Reef

AS the Federal Government prepares to report its progress on protecting the Great Barrier Reef to the World Heritage Committee this week, environmentalists say not enough has been done.   The Commonwealth is due to report its progress on several recommendations from the UNESCO body to ensure the reef is protected from a range of threats, including climate change, port development and the crown of thorns starfish.   If the WHC believes not enough action has been taken to address its concerns, it will meet again in June this year to consider putting the reef on a list of "World Heritage Sites in Danger".   But a report card on the progress to date, from WWF Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society, says the federal and state governments have "failed to act" on crucial recommendations.   The report found "some concerns" remain for key outcomes including protecting the World Heritage values of the reef, and an independent investigation of Gladstone Harbour management.   But the groups, who have been vocal opponents of coal mining in Queensland, say both levels of governments have also made "no or insignificant" progress on stopping port developments near the reef.   The report comes as the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority prepares to release its recommendations to government on a dredging project near Abbot Point, north of Mackay.   While the authority's recommendation will not likely stop the dredging altogether, it may prevent the spoil created from being dumped in or near the marine park.   But WWF reef campaign director Richard Leck said all the community got was "lots of talk but very little action" on the WHC's recommendations.   He said the reality was that dredging projects continued to be approved, despite those projects approved being within port limits, largely consistent with the committee's recommendations.   "Our World Heritage Status for the Reef is on the line. Do we really want to join the list of shame and have the Reef declared World Heritage in Danger?" he said.   It is understood the government will be publicly releasing its report on progress made later this week, when it officially hands it to the WHC.  

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