AN environmental report released on Friday has recommended that the Great Barrier Reef be listed as in danger because it meets six out of eight criteria.
Groups Earthjustice and Environmental Justice Australia released the joint report, saying the reef was threatened by "serious and specific dangers" - part of the criteria for an in-danger listing.
Last month the UNESCO World Heritage Committee published its draft decision to not list the reef as in danger. The committee will make the final decision when it meets later this month.
But Environmental Justice Australia lawyer Ariane Wilkinson said the reef met six of the eight in-danger criteria and that it should be listed as in-danger.
The report said the reef met criteria including: a serious decline in endangered species; human invasion on boundaries or upstream areas; planned development; inadequate management plan; and threatening climate and environmental factors.
It also said the reef was arguably facing severe deterioration of the natural beauty; another criterion on the list.
Along with listing the reef as in-danger, the report also recommended annual monitoring of the Reef 2050 Sustainability Plan's implementation and other conditions.
Earthjustice attorney Martin Wagner said the Great Barrier Reef was the largest coal reef on the planet and was one of the world's richest and most complex ecosystems.
"If the World Heritage system is to have any value, it must address the most serious threats to the most iconic examples of world heritage," he said.
At a legal forum about the Great Barrier Reef in Brisbane, WWF reef campaigner Louise Matthiesson said the Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt's comments following the World Heritage Committee's draft decision about Australia being "off the hook" were not accurate.
She said the committee's decision was "quite different to what Greg Hunt would have you believe".
In the decision, the committee said Australia would have to implement all of the commitments in the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan and prove it would be successful, Ms Matthiesson said.