Scientists unite to protect reef
THERE is a new push to consolidate the protection of reefs within the Solitary Islands Marine Park.
It has come from leading scientists in the form of a statement – The Coffs Harbour Subtropical Reefs Declaration – in which they urge increased focus and better management for reefs south of the Great Barrier Reef.
The declaration explains that southerly areas were expected to become critical refuges for northern tropical marine life under global warming.
The declaration follows a workshop by researchers and marine managers at the National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour. They concluded that the subtropics would play a key role in safeguarding Australia’s tropical marine life as ocean warming drives it southwards – especially if northern coral reefs die off, as some scientists fear.
The Coffs Harbour Declaration was made by a new expert group called the Sustainable Subtropical Reefs Alliance (SuSRA). Among its signatories are scientists from five of Australia’s east coast universities including Southern Cross University (SCU).
Professor Peter Harrison said the region from south-east Queensland to the Solitary Islands Marine Park in NSW, was a biodiversity hotspot.