An Outlook Consensus workshop was organised and convened by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) in Townsville on 14–16 October 2013 supported by ‘Contestable Funds’ from the Tropical Ecosystems Hub. The objective of the workshop was to secure an independent set of expert judgments about condition, trends and risks in the Great Barrier Reef Region that could be used to inform GBRMPA’s preparation of the 2014 Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report.

The workshop involved eliciting information and consensus from 31 subject experts selected by GBRMPA. The workshop was convened and moderated an external facilitator with extensive experience in the conduct of similar elicitation exercises.

The three-day workshop process involved anonymous voting on the condition, trends and risks relating to the Great Barrier Reef Region. The voting procedures were conducted using a pre-set decision structure derived from the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2009, and within a specified set of assumptions and guidance.

The workshop outcomes confirm the extent and breadth of opinion held in the scientific community about a number of issues in the Region. A key outcome is confirmation that the condition of a substantial number of habitats and species in the Region is considered to be substantially degraded compared to their expected condition if there had been no human influence on the ecosystem.

Human influence and hence impacts are continuing, and are considered to be resulting in a broad trend of continuing but variable declines in biodiversity and ecosystem health in the region. The trend of current decline is evidenced by the much larger number of both biodiversity and ecosystem health condition components considered to be deteriorating compared to the number that are improving. This relates to the dominant current risks: impacts of climate change, human activities and development in the coastal areas and rivers discharging to the region, and the direct extraction of resources, including fishing. The findings provide a strong basis for the development of a robust 2014 Outlook Report.

The full report has been submitted to Government and can be accessed at

For more information, contact Dr Fergus Molloy from GBRMPA at

08 October 2013

THE discovery of another species of rare frogs forced changes to the design of a Gold Coast light rail bridge, it can be revealed.

The green-thighed frog is the second rare amphibian found on the tram route after a colony of tusked frogs were discovered in Surfers Paradise and had to be relocated to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Read more

26 June 2013

Migaloo, the world-famous white humpback whale, has reportedly been spotted on the annual mass whale migration to the Great Barrier Reef.

The 14m-long albino male, previously the only documented white humpback whale on the planet, is a star feature of the 12,000km journey. Read more




Coral trout (Plectropomus spp.) are iconic coral reef fishes that occur throughout the Indo-Pacific, and are important species for recreational and commercial fisheries, including those within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Larval coral trout settle out of the plankton onto the reef during a critical life phase known as “recruitment” Successful recruitment requires specific conditions of food and shelter, with some places on the reef preferred to others. On the Keppel Is group such “hotspots” have been found in back reef, lagoon and reef slope habitats and typically have a mix of live coral patches dispersed among coral and sand.

But what does this mean for reef management? Are hotspots important when considering zoning and sustainability?  Drs David Williamson and Colin Wen of JCU have just released a policy brief which provides detail on their work on hotspots within Project 8.2 and discusses the importance of such areas for management of the GBR.

For further information contact:

Project: 8.2 Do no-take marine reserves contribute to biodiversity and fishery sustainability? Assessing the effects of management zoning on inshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park




CO2 Science

07 August 2013

In a paper published earlier this year in Nature Climate Change, Wiedenmann et al. (2013) note that mass coral bleaching "has been identified as the most severe threat to coral reef survival on a global scale," citing Hughes et al. (2003); but they indicate that regionally "nutrient enrichment of reef waters is often associated with a significant loss of coral cover and diversity," citing the work of Fabricius (2005). In addition, and citing Wooldridge (2009), they also state that more recently, "increased dissolved inorganic nitrogen concentrations have been linked to a reduction of the temperature threshold of coral bleaching." Read more



The Newsport Daily

17 January 2014

Scientists have gained new insight into the damage done to coral in The Southern Great Barrier Reef by river run-off caused by intense weather events like the 2011 floods.

Core samples obtained from corals around the Keppel Islands reveals the way flood plumes from Queensland's Fitzroy River catchment have impacted reefs as far as 50km from the mouth of the river. Read More




Sky News

25 October 2013

A decision on a controversial dredging project near the Great Barrier Reef may be delayed again.

The federal government expects to make a call on the project before the end of the year, but won't say whether it will meet the previous Labor government's November 9 deadline. Read More




9 News

27 November 2013

With concerns that humans are turning into couch potatoes, it seems our fishy friends may be in the same boat.

A study has found large reef fish are becoming more lethargic as oceans warm up. Read more




Al Jazeera

24 July 2013

With the venomous Crown of Thorns starfish decimating Australia's Barrier Reef, hope comes from a surprising source.

Australia's iconic Great Barrier Reef has lost half its coral since 1985 and around 40 percent of this is believed to be down to the venomous Crown of Thorns starfish.

Scientists believe that a combination of global warming and nitrogen-based fertilisers from on-shore agriculture may have created the perfect conditions for the coral munching starfish, which are breeding in massive numbers. Read more



ABC Radiio National

16 July 2013

The Great Barrier Reef may soon be assessed as a World Heritage site 'in danger' by UNESCO.

Water scientist at James Cook University, Jon Brody, thinks this listing should go ahead because, despite improvements in agricultural management, the threats to the reef are still there. Read more