SOURCE: CBS News

DATE: August 30, 2019

SNIP: The government agency that manages Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has downgraded its outlook for the corals’ condition from “poor” to “very poor” due to warming oceans. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s condition report, which is updated every five years, is the latest bad news for the 133,360-square-mile colorful coral network off the northeast Australian coast as climate change and coral bleaching take their toll.

The report issued Friday finds the greatest threat to the reef remains climate change. The other threats are associated with coastal development, land-based water runoff and human activity such as illegal fishing.

“Significant global action to address climate change is critical to slowing the deterioration of the reef’s ecosystem and heritage values and supporting recovery,” the report said. “Such actions will complement and greatly increase the effectiveness of local management actions in the Reef and its catchment.”

The report is the agency’s third and tracks continuing deterioration since the first in 2009. The deterioration in the reef’s outlook mostly reflects the expanding area of coral killed or damaged by coral bleaching.

A study of coral bleaching on the reef, published in the journal Nature in 2017, found 91% of the coral reef had been bleached at least once during three bleaching events of the past two decades, the most serious event occurring in 2016.

A fourth major bleaching struck later in 2017 after the Nature study was published.