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Leonardo DiCaprio weighs in on Great Barrier Reef health

Date
DiCaprio's reef 'utopia' is gone.

DiCaprio's reef 'utopia' is gone. Photo: AP

Hollywood star and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio has spoken of the devastation he’s witnessed on the Great Barrier Reef as the World Heritage Committee meets to consider its status.

The committee is holding it’s annual meeting in Doha and is considering whether to list the reef as a World Heritage site in danger.

Queensland’s Environment Minister Andrew Powell says the committee has been misinformed about the health of the reef, and he’s travelled to the meeting to present the real picture.

The Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef.

He’s confident the reef won’t be listed as in danger at this stage, and it’s broadly expected that Australia will be given another year to continue its work ticking off previous recommendations on improving reef health.

DiCaprio, who has made marine conservation a personal crusade, has offered his own perspective on the health of the reef at an oceans conference in Washington DC.

‘‘Since my very first dive in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia 20-years-ago to the dive I got to do in the very same location just two years ago, I’ve witnessed environmental devastation firsthand,’’ DiCaprio said at the conference.

‘‘What once had looked like an endless underwater utopia is now riddled with bleached coral reefs and massive dead zones.’’

He made the comments as the US joined forces with other nations to declare a vast swath of the Pacific Ocean a marine sanctuary and take historic steps to combat illegal fishing.

Mr Powell has gone to Doha armed with the federal government’s latest report card on the Great Barrier Reef’s health.

It found that while the health of the reef is still poor, recent improvements to water quality should ensure it stays off the in danger list.

The federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has also expressed optimism that the reef will escape an in-danger listing, something conservation groups have said would humiliate Australia as its guardian.

The United Nation’s environmental arm, UNESCO, made seven recommendations for improving management of the reef last year.It has since said Australia has made progress in improving water quality and praised plans to limit the impact of some aspects of port developments along the coast.

However, it raised concerns about decision-making powers over future developments being transferred from the federal government to the states.

It also said a decision to allow three million tonnes of dredge spoil to be dumped within the marine park as part of a planned expansion of Abbot Point coal port, near Bowen, was concerning.No developments that would impact the reef’s overall universal value should be approved, UNESCO has said.

AAP

50 comments so far

  • Leonardo the great climate scientist!

    Commenter
    muzza
    Date and time
    June 18, 2014, 9:07AM
    • The bloke has huge, Hollywood, "A list" star power and he's using that to try to help save the Reef from its destruction.

      What is the problem with that?

      Commenter
      Stuart
      Date and time
      June 18, 2014, 10:19AM
    • Is this sarcasm by an Australian who can not accept constructive criticism? We should all be concerned by the Barrier Reef's health. Australia relies on tourism and respect for nature.

      Commenter
      Brin
      Date and time
      June 18, 2014, 10:55AM
    • Don't you mean the world renown and expert marine biologist. Any marine biologist will know that there are natural processes which can cause coral damage, such as bleaching and a holiday sample by a 'star' does not necessarily represent the health of the reef. It is also possible to be taken to parts of the reef where damage has been caused to bias ones view of the actual condition.

      Commenter
      phb
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      June 18, 2014, 11:23AM
    • Id like to know what Leonardo is going to do to create jobs in Australia

      Commenter
      J Mc
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      June 18, 2014, 11:45AM
    • great ocean conservationist when he charters a $400m super yacht to hang out in whilst watching the world cup. A bit like Al Gore and his private jet.

      Commenter
      Rex
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      June 18, 2014, 3:25PM
    • Sad that the world has to tell a first world country how to look after its wonders. Thanks to Newman and big business one of the australian icons is at risk. Money talks and politicians walks.

      Commenter
      green
      Location
      briz
      Date and time
      June 19, 2014, 8:33AM
  • I wonder if where DiCraprio went diving had a cyclone go through it, or the bleaching was in a area affected by the Crown of Thornes? It would be interesting to know?

    Commenter
    Indeed
    Date and time
    June 18, 2014, 9:15AM
    • It's all greenie propaganda mate. I wnder How much Co2 emmision Di Caprio is causeing making his movies, and travelling all around the planet? and what about his life style how much power does he use just for his houses holds ?,We all heard about Al Gore three mansions, and how many lights Al has on all the time.bloody heaps. One guy i work with saw one of Al Gore mansions last year when he was in America on a holiday . He told us that Al Gore mansion was as bright, as wene the sun was rising with all the lights on.

      Commenter
      Benson Kane
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      June 18, 2014, 1:53PM
  • "The federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has also expressed optimism that the reef will escape an in-danger listing"

    Gee isn't "escape" an interesting word to use.... Almost to suggest that the reef should by all definitions be listed as in danger, but we should get away with it or evade the truth.

    These politicians need to realise that there will be more respect in owning up to the problem, than continuing to act in denial as to avoid being the government that had this happen on their watch.

    Commenter
    1933
    Date and time
    June 18, 2014, 9:19AM

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