Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority confirms that superyachts cruising the Great Barrier Reef are not in any way causing coral bleaching. The news follows on from the annoucement made during the ASMEX conference held 17/18 May at Sanctuary Cove in Queensland.

Great Barrier Reef

Reef snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. Photo by WT-shared

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has told Superyacht Australia at the recent ASMEX conference held 17/18 May at Sanctuary Cove in Queensland that superyachts cruising the Great Barrier Reef are not in any way causing coral bleaching.

Simon Banks, GBRMPA general manager, attended the conference and provided a presentation on the Great Barrier Reef agreed with comments that there appeared to be a lot of miss-information out there regarding superyachts and he wanted to assure the global superyacht fleet that vessels are welcome in the Great Barrier Reef.

The facts are detailed below and coral bleaching is definitely not caused by superyachts cruising in the area.

Superyacht Australia is currently working with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to gain greater access for superyachts to this iconic heritage area and GBRMPA are keen to work with industry to ensure owners have the best possible experience when cruising in the Whitsundays.

MaryAnne Edwards, Superyacht Australia CEO, comments: “The southern regions of the GBR have experienced minimal impact from this natural event. We strongly encourage all visiting yachts to come and experience our beautiful cruising grounds along the Great Barrier Reef. The marinas in this region will go above and beyond to ensure visiting superyachts have the best experience possible.”

Facts around coral bleaching

  • Mass coral bleaching is caused by prolonged exposure to heat stress. The underlying driver of the heat stress is climate change, which is causing our oceans to warm. In addition, this year’s strong El Niño meant there was little monsoon activity over summer, which would normally have given corals some respite from the heat stress.
  • While bleaching is a clear sign of stress, it doesn’t mean all affected corals will die. And despite media you may have heard to the contrary, 93 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef is not dead.• Bleaching on the Reef is widespread, but not uniform in its severity. The most severe bleaching has occurred at the far northern reaches of the GBR, well away from the major superyacht destinations and population centres”
  • The most immediate way to help the Reef recover from this serious occurrence of bleaching is to reduce local, regional and catchment-wide stressors. Creating the right conditions will support the natural capacity of corals to bounce back. The ecosystem’s capacity to recover from disturbances was demonstrated in new data released this year by the Australian Institute of Marine Science which found a near doubling of coral cover in the Reef’s southern sector between 2012 and 2015.
  • The single biggest thing we can all do to protect the Great Barrier Reef is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Another key measure is to improve water quality by reducing fertilisers, sediments and pesticides entering the Reef through catchment waterways. Thousands of farmers and graziers are already engaged in this task.
  • As a practical measure to protect existing coral cover, we will also continue our efforts to cull the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish.
  • Further information regarding this issue is detailed on the GBRMPA website.