The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) has today released their latest coral monitoring report which waves a burning red flag for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The latest update to their Long‑Term Reef Monitoring Program – Annual Summary Report on Coral Reef Condition for 2018/19 shows coral decline on an unparalleled scale, due primarily to the impacts of climate change.

The report by the country’s pre-eminent marine science agency shows that hard coral cover, the foundation of our beautiful Reef, has declined by a whopping 10-30% in the past five years.

It found that hard coral cover in the Northern Great Barrier Reef increased by 3% but notes that this may be an overestimation, as the 2016 coral bleaching caused the greatest mortality to inshore coral reefs, few of which could be surveyed due to safety concerns.

Coral reefs in the northern and central Great Barrier Reef have sustained impacts from ‘multiple severe disturbances, including mass coral bleaching, cyclones and crown of thorns starfish’.

“The data screams out from this report that climate change is clobbering our world heritage Reef,” said Shani Tager, Great Barrier Reef spokeswoman from the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

“Underwater heatwaves have caused mass coral bleaching. As sea temperatures rise ever upwards, our corals bleach, our cyclones become more extreme and crown of thorn starfish thrive from excess runoff along our coast.

“The Reef is still a dynamic, beautiful place, home to thousands of animals and supporting 64,000 tourism jobs, but it’s in serious trouble and we need our Governments to act fast.

“Queensland and Australia are custodians of our beloved Great Barrier Reef, but this report reminds us yet again how out of touch our political leaders are on the urgent need for climate change action.

“Our government should be leading the world on clean, renewable energy. Instead they stagger on with plans to develop more coal mines like Adani and more coal fired power stations, subsidised by Australian taxpayers who have never been more concerned about climate change.

“Australia’s top marine scientists are saying that climate change will make it harder for our Reef to recover from more frequent natural disasters and disturbances.

“This is a burning red flag for our Reef and our nation. Australians love our Great Barrier Reef and we must fight to protect its future.”