Great Barrier Reef Mass Coral Bleaching Event. © Dean Miller / Greenpeace
Great Barrier Reef Mass Coral Bleaching Event. © Dean Miller / Greenpeace
© Dean Miller / Greenpeace

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has today officially confirmed that the World Heritage-listed wonder is undergoing a seventh mass coral bleaching event — the fifth in just eight years.

The confirmation is a dire warning about the future of Australia’s marine icon. In a video statement, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has said that the Australian government is doing everything they can to, “give our beautiful reef the best chance of survival,” however Australia is the third largest fossil fuel exporter in the world and a major contributor to the climate crisis.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO, David Ritter, said that while the news was expected, the official confirmation of a seventh mass bleaching event is a devastating blow.

“Just three weeks ago I was snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef off Cairns. It was beautiful, but we witnessed the beginning stages of this event unfolding, with patchy coral bleaching at both sites we visited. 

“We know that the climate crisis is driving deadly marine heatwaves and devastating our marine ecosystems, but the frequency and scale at which these mass bleaching events are now occurring is frightening — every summer we’re holding our breath.

“Last year the Great Barrier Reef narrowly avoided an ‘In Danger’ listing, with the Australian government promising to do everything it can to protect the Reef. This has to include addressing climate change as an existential threat to the reef, and ensuring our emissions reductions plans are aligned with a 1.5 degree pathway. 

“Claims that Australia is taking the health of the Great Barrier Reef seriously ring hollow when we continue to expand and subsidise the coal and gas industry to the tune of billions every year. The Australian government can not in good faith approve climate bombs like Woodside’s Burrup Hub and say that they care about the Reef’s future.”