ABS data shows reef coral, seagrass loss
STARTLING statistics have revealed a severe drop in the reef's seagrass, coral and water quality in the Fitzroy region and the Mackay and Whitsunday region.
Figures show the Fitzroy region has recorded a decline of more than 50% in seagrass and coral quality on the Great Barrier Reef.
The Mackay and Whitsunday region has had a 45% drop in water quality.
On Thursday the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the first ecosystem accounts that examined data taken over the past decade of the reef's condition and scored it accordingly.
It showed seagrass condition had dropped by more than half in the Fitzroy area; going from 100 points when data started being collected in 2005-06 to just 38 points in 2012.
There has also been a decline in seagrass condition in the Mackay and Whitsunday region, going from 100 points in 2005 to its lowest level of 21 points in 2011.
It then bounced back to 38.4 points in 2012.
Water quality has been following similar patterns.
The score decreased from 100 points to 59 points between 2005 and 2011 in the Fitzroy area.
It dropped to 54 points in the Mackay and Whitsunday region during the same timeframe.
Coral has also been declining.
The ABS found the condition of coral dropped significantly in the Fitzroy area between 2007 and 2013; going from 100 points to just 37.
The drop in the Mackay and Whitsunday region was not as significant, going from 100 points to 95 points between 2007 and 2013.
The ABS report - An Experimental Ecosystem Account for the Great Barrier Reef Region went into detail about the seascape, fishing, landscape, biodiversity, agriculture and tourism.
Figures showed the number of fish had also fluctuated but over the long term were steady.
In the Fitzroy area, it bounced from 114 points in 2005 to 95 points in 2011.
It then moved down slightly to 92 points in 2013.
In the Mackay and Whitsunday region, the number of fish has remained steady since 2001.
Statistics also showed the number of visitors to the Great Barrier Reef fluctuated, going from 17.4 million people in 2009-10 to 15.6 million in 2010-11.
It then bounced back up until 2013, when 18 million visitors were recorded.
The amount of money made from the reef's tourism has also fluctuated, going from $8.2 billion in 2009-10 to $8.6 billion in 2012-13.
The report stated climate change, declining water quality from catchment runoff and loss of coastal habitats from fishing and coastal development were the main factors affecting the reef's condition.
"Many of these threats are the result of regional or global actions, beyond the boundaries of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park," the report said.