Researchers Want to Know What YOU Think About the Great Barrier Reef

Written by on June 18, 2013 in Coral Reefs, Other News, Policy & Ocean Law

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is conducting an extensive social study to determine what the Great Barrier Reef means to both locals and visitors.

A pink anemone fish, Ribbon Reefs, Great Barrier Reef.

A pink anemone fish, Ribbon Reefs, Great Barrier Reef. Photo © Matt Curnock, CSIRO.

CSIRO will ask 5,000 people over the next two months about their perceptions for the Great Barrier Reef. The survey will cover marine tourism, traditional owners, ports and shipping, aquaculture, mining, residents and coastal communities.

“It’s the first time personal thoughts and feelings about the reef are being comprehensively collected,” explained CSIRO social scientist and project lead Dr. Nadine Marshall. “Years of data exist on the economic, ecological and environmental dimensions of the reef and now we’re closing the loop and including the hardest dimension of all – people.”

The data will help decision-makers, including reef managers, business owners and government officials, understand the role that people will play in the Great Barrier Reef’s future.

The study was announced on the same day that the UNESCO conference to discuss the status of new and existing World Heritage sites began in Cambodia. At the meeting, it will be decided if the Great Barrier Reef should be placed on the “in danger” list.

The Great Barrier Reef faces threats from the “significant loss” of coral cover, the effects of climate change and crown of thorns starfish but despite those problems, a preliminary report recommends that the decision be postponed for another year while improvements are made.

Environment Minister Tony Burke told Guardian Australia that the government is committed to safeguarding the Reef.

“It’ll be presumptuous to say what the world heritage committee will decide but I’m confident that we have evidence to show that Australia takes management of the reef seriously,” Burke told the Guardian.

To learn more:

Sooty and crested terns nesting on Taylor sand cay (with eggs and chicks).

Sooty and crested terns nesting on Taylor sand cay (with eggs and chicks). Photo © Matt Curnock, CSIRO.

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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