Interest in direct Reef health intervention grows, confidence in Reef remains high

The NESP Tropical Water Quality Hub is well-positioned to deliver towards the goals agreed during the Managing for Resilience Reef Summit in Townsville in May, in which more than 70 leading coral reef experts from around the world converged to discuss issues facing the GBR.

Several representatives from the Tropical Water Quality Hub attended including Hub Leader Professor Damien Burrows, who said the forum presented many new opportunities for research and Reef health development for TWQ to support.

“There was a breadth of representatives from government, academia, tourism and conservation at the summit,” Prof Burrows said.

“There was a big diversity of ideas – a lot of useful ideas for TWQ to invest in, chiefly Crown of Thorns Starfish control. Crown of Thorns are eating the coral that survives bleaching and other impact events and there is strong support for the successful Integrated Pest Management approach to their control which the TWQ Hub has championed.”

While conversations at the summit’s workshops focused mainly on discussing the need for global action to combat system-wide threats to the GBR, there was also plenty of enthusiasm expressed for direct interventions in Reef health.

“There was a lot of conversations that revealed a strong feeling toward the need to prioritise sites for interventions,” Prof Burrows said.”

“What is being discussed is developing a ‘matrix of vulnerability versus value’ for reefs – vulnerability to bleaching, Crown-of-Thorns Starfish and other damage, versus ecological, economic and cultural value, and this would be used to determine prioritisation for interventions on the GBR.

“There is a desire for direct interventions but there also needs to be specific parameters in mind.

“There’s two aspects to how we go forward on Reef health – we need to keep doing what we are doing in terms of existing efforts like Crown of Thorns Starfish management and water quality monitoring, there’s no call to throw out existing actions.

“However, we do need to look into direct intervention after establishing need and mapping future outcomes.

“Overall, there was a lot of energy and a lot of optimism – [the attendees at the summit] see the problems facing the GBR but are confident that it’s within our power to ensure it’s still going to be a fantastic international icon and will retain its value into the future.”


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