Since the 1980s, the Great Barrier Reef's coral cover has halved, the Australian Coral Reef Society says, and by 2015, there will be fewer fish and large swathes of seaweed where complex coral structures once thrived, The Courier Mail reported.
Threats to the reef, scientists told a Senate committee that's investigating how governments have managed the reef, include coastal development, farm run-off and poor water quality. These scientists also say that the reef cannot rejuvenate after times of stress as it once did.
The truth of the matter, as Australian Coral Reef Society President Professor Peter Mumby puts it, is that the reef will "be really pretty ugly,” he told the committee. “The ability to earn a livelihood will be vastly diminished. The reef is in the worse state it’s ever been in since records began.”
The committee was told funding for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority had been cut, and the commonwealth was set to devolve its environmental approval powers to the states, meaning major projects would only be assessed once, according to The Courier Mail.