Site: Great Barrier Reef
What is your personal relation to the marine WHS you represent?
I think my personal relation with the World Heritage Site that I am representing is reasonably good. I have grown up along the Great Barrier Reef all my life and currently reside in Cairns in Far North Queensland, Australia. Cairns is also situated close to another World Heritage Site, the Wet Tropics Rainforest. As I am a descendant of the Yirrganydji Aboriginal People, traditional owners from Cairns to Port Douglas along the coast, I have inherited the responsibility from my ancestors to be involved in the management of my traditional country which includes a small section of the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics Rainforest. It is important for us to work together alongside other coastal traditional owners, researchers, tourism operators and natural resource managers to protect and preserve the qualities and maintain the significance of the GBRWHA for all people across the globe.
What are the specific problems and threats of your marine WHS?
The threats that may and will affect the World Heritage value on the Great Barrier Reef includes: climate change, coral bleaching, wildlife impacts (e.g. Crown of thorns starfish), development and destruction of key habitat areas, shipping, chemical and water run-offs, mining and oil spills, dredging, natural disasters, marine debris, increasing of population and excessive use (e.g. taking of resources and illegal poaching) and etc.
The GBRMPA are developing strategies on countering these threats. Just recently, GBRMPA injected funds into the Tourism Industry to deal with the crown of thorns starfish outbreak which is currently threatening the GBRWHA.
Why do you think is it important to safeguard your marine WHS?
The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is the world’s largest reef system and one of the world’s seven natural wonders. So we must keep it that way, protecting and conserving its biodiversity for everyone, particularly the species inhabiting the GBR. The GBR includes an extensive network of reefs, cays, islands, sea grass beds and mangrove swamps providing rich habitats for many species.
The Great Barrier Reef is home to many people. To the Indigenous Traditional Owners of the Great Barrier Reef, there are many old traditional stories that have been passed down from generation to generation telling of how the reefs, cays and sand banks in the Great Barrier Reef marked the original coastline. So in the past, all the reefs were land – and significant cultural heritage sites amongst the tribes of the GBR. The GBR was managed through traditional methods embedded in cultural lore or custom. Now, we would like to share that management responsibility with the world to preserve the GBR’s qualities for ALL people and future generations, so we can all enjoy the significance of the GBR world heritage site.