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Media Release: Stark severe coral bleaching footage released - as Australian Government warned: Do your ‘fair share’ to protect our World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef

Fri 24 February 2017

Cinematographer and marine biologist Richard Fitzpatrick, with newly bleached corals outside Cairns

Cinematographer and marine biologist Richard Fitzpatrick, with newly bleached corals outside Cairns

Australia is not doing its ‘fair share’ to reduce global emissions, meet the Paris Agreement and protect our Great Barrier Reef, eminent scientists and policy experts stated today. New footage, recorded 20 February, of severe coral bleaching outside Cairns, also shows stark evidence of this failure, according to the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

These findings were part of a review report, Reef 2050 Long-term Sustainability Plan: Progress on Implementation, by the Great Barrier Reef Independent Review Group. Alarmingly, these conclusions also coincide with comments from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority that state our Reef faces an imminent and elevated risk of widespread coral bleaching, just a year after last year’s severe event.

Footage released this week by Biopixel, featuring cinematographer and marine biologist Richard Fitzpatrick, clearly documents newly bleached corals at famous Cairns dive spots - worrying evidence that Australia’s lack of climate action is again impacting our Great Barrier Reef.

Imogen Zethoven AMCS Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director, said our Reef is on a knife edge. Ms Zethoven called the Reef 2050 review a warning shot:

“Failure to act now will spell disaster for our Reef. Scientists warn that we have four years left to have a 66% chance of keeping global temperature rise to no more than 1.5°C. This is a critical threshold for the survival of the Great Barrier Reef and all the world’s reefs.”

“The solutions are clear: we must ensure no new coal mines and we must urgently cut carbon pollution.

“The worst thing governments could be doing to our Reef and the 70,000 people who depend on it for their livelihoods is to allow the Adani Carmichael mine to proceed. The coal mine would super charge climate change and tip the world over the edge of 1.5°C, spelling catastrophe for our Great Barrier Reef and all the world’s coral reefs,” said Zethoven.

“In the last week, divers and scientists have reported bleached corals on popular tourist reefs around Cairns and on reefs near Townsville.”

“The next two weeks will be critical. If the hot weather and clear skies continue, then we will see a second severe mass bleaching event. This would be the first time that our Reef would have bleached two years in a row.
“We must pull back from the madness of allowing Adani’s Carmichael coal mine to proceed,” said Zethoven. “We must protect our World Heritage listed Reef. We must protect the 70,000 jobs down the Queensland coastline that depend on a healthy Reef.”

Notes to editors:

The report - Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan: Progress on Implementation by the Great Barrier Reef Independent Review Group - can be downloaded at:

Footage of new coral bleaching by Biopixel can be found below:-

Footage featuring Richard Fitzpatrick can be found below:



For further information, contact:

Media and Communications, Australian Marine Conservation Society
+61 (0) 412 505 405,

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