Don’t Fear the Reefer
The Australian government today announced plans to put nearly one-third of the Great Barrier Reef off limits to fishing and trawling. “This will provide the largest network of protected marine areas in the world,” said Minister for the Environment David Kemp. Environmental advocates praised the move but pointed out that the government needs to do more, including protect additional sensitive sections of the reef, curb oil and gas exploration in reef areas, and tackle climate change, which causes bleaching of coral reefs. “They could ratify the Kyoto Protocol and ensure that Australia becomes a world leader in efforts to tackle climate change, because that’s the biggest threat to the reef in the future,” said Don Henry, executive director of the Australian Conservation Foundation. But the current conservative administration in the country has no such intentions. Prime Minister John Howard pledged today that Australia will not ratify Kyoto, arguing that the treaty would hurt Australia’s economy and that it’s not viable without the participation of the U.S.