Case Study: The Great Barrier Reef

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SESSION 1: INTRODUCTION A coral reef is communicated living organisms that is one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. They are covering less than 0.1% of the ocean floor, however they are home about 25% of marine life. Due to this characteristic, they are known as a rainforests of the ocean. The main structure of a reef is tiny animals called polyps that have hard outer skeleton made of calcium. They grow in warm, shallow and moving water and they grow just 0.3 cm to 10 cm per year. The reefs that we see today have been growing over the past 5000 to 10000 years. (Coral Reefs. (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2015, from Additionally, there are
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According to J. Bowen and M. Bowen (2002), in the mid 1920s, the Great Barrier Reef has gained a popular image as a fascinating and exotic area. A number of people began organizing small trips to easily accessible locations of the reef. (p.283)
The marine tourism industry, The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and other government agencies all have a role in organizing activities and protecting the area. GBRMPA adopted a policy that involves permission for 15-year tourism activities such as boating, diving, motorized water sports, visiting island and cays. Up to 2 million visits are made each year to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park by visitors using a tourism operation. (GBMP Authority (2011) “Tourism on the Great Barrier Reef” from
The other common activity in the region is fishing. Reef fishing must be one of the most enjoyable types of fishing due to its biodiversity. Fishers mostly prefer to hunt orange roughy, coral trout, red emperor, Spanish mackerel, and pilchard commercially. In addition, dugong, which is one of the sea mammals and also known as sea cows, have been hunted by Aborigines for many years.
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These threats sometimes occurs naturally, however the most significant reason of this damage is human. People cause lots of issues while they are using or even sailing around this entrancing region. One of these issues is over fishing that may disrupt the food chain in the reef. Fishing unconsciously, has an impact on marine life due to using forbidden fishing method, trawling, and to left its trashes such as anchors and nets. In addition to trawling, hunting endangered species is another cause of this threat. Dugongs, or sea cows, have been hunted by Australian Aborigines even if they are one of the endangered species in the reef and it is forbidden to hunt dugongs.
Another issue is shipping accidents and oil spills. Mostly merchant vessels, commercial ships, use the Great Barrier Reef shipping route. According to Australian Maritime Safety Authority (2002), from 1985 to 2001, 11 collisions and 20 groundings occurred along the reef shipping route. These shipwrecks caused 282 oil spills between 1987-2002. In addition, Zubrzycki’s report (2013), Australia approves on of the world’s largest coal which will cause severe damage to the reef. Environmentalists state that the reef will be placed on in-danger list of Unesco’s World Heritage Centre. (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (2006). “Principal water quality influences on Great Barrier Reef

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