Taking Care of the Reef

Restrictions in boating, fishing, and various other activities have, increasingly, been put in place, to help protect the Great Barrier Reef from further destruction. Nevertheless, it is still an extremely vulnerable ecosystem, and remains threatened. It's imporant to be aware how your actions and decisions impact the reef and interlocking ocean ecosystems worldwide.

Communities and governments cannot manage the species and the biological and physical processes of reef ecology. But we can seek to manage those things that humans do or do not do which damage coralreefs environments and communities. To do this requires some major changes in many long established thought processes.

Sustainable Fishing

We must learn to fish in ways that we can demonstrate to be sustainable without slowly destroying the ecosystem that produces the fish. We can no longer assume that the resources of the sea are limitless and that we can do no harm by unrestrained fishing and collecting. We can develop low impact sustainable aquaculture to produce food and materials.

Waste Disposal

We must recognize and make specific decisions about the costs of waste disposal. Either we accept the costs of chemical or biological treatment of waste before material is discharged into waterways, or we accept environmental impacts. We can no longer simply assume that the sea is the cheapest and most effective place to dispose of sewage, urban, agricultural and industrial waste.

Do Your Part

Reduce the Addition of Chemicals to the Environment

  • Use low phosphate and low nitrate detergents
  • Reduce garden chemical use
  • Dispose of excess household chemicals properly
  • Buy organic produce
  • Buy fish that are caught sustainably

Reduce Your Part in Global Warming

  • Reduce electric use
  • Reduce auto use
  • Loby for climate change legislation
  • Educate yourself
  • Join a conservation group

This guide to Reef Care was written by Paddy Colwell of ReefTeach. Colwell's professional life is dedicated teaching visitors to Cairns about the Great Barrier Reef at his nightly seminars. Paddy also leads guided dives and teaches a four-day reef biology course, which combines two days of guided diving with 8 hours of instruction on reef biology.

Lifestyle Practices

Recycle, Reuse, ReduceWhile your home may seem far away from the Great Barrier Reef, you do have an impact on it, and also on your local coastal waters. Current theory is connecting global climate change with increased bleaching events on coral reefs worldwide, which are caused by unusually warm ocean temperatures. Do your part and use fossil fuels in your life wisely and carefully. Any decision that you make which reduces your energy use helps, and will also save you money by reducing your power and fuel spending.