In response to confirmation of new coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said:

“I feel so sad about the news that the Great Barrier Reef is being hit by coral bleaching again.

“The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has today confirmed ‘widespread but variable’ coral bleaching ‘across multiple regions, ranging in impact from minor to severe.’

“This follows mass bleachings on the reef in 1998, 2002, 2016, 2017 and 2020.

“To date far north Queensland has had its hottest March on record and its third heatwave of the summer – like humans and wildlife, coral is stressed by heat and if the heat stress is too severe, coral can die.

“These repeated bleaching events have hit the tourism industry hard and are a blow to everyone who loves this incredible natural wonder, which is home to a vast array of fish, turtles, sharks, octopus, squids and other sea creatures.

“We all know the biggest threat to the reef is climate change.

“The ongoing digging up and burning of coal, oil and gas is overheating the atmosphere and the ocean, damaging the reef’s sensitive coral through all-too-frequent bleaching events.

“If the federal government is serious about its claim of wanting to protect the Great Barrier Reef it must rapidly phase out coal, oil and gas and stop encouraging the growth of fossil fuel industries.

“Only urgent action on climate change will give the reef a chance to survive.”

Next week a team from the United Nations will begin a 10-day monitoring mission on the reef ahead of a meeting of the World Heritage committee in June.

“If the Morrison government wants to avoid an ‘in danger’ listing for the reef, it must strengthen its climate targets and policies in line with the science,” Ms O’Shanassy said.

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