Ministers discuss strategic assessment for reef

A LONG-term plan for the sustainable development of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area will go to Commonwealth and state environment ministers in March next year.

But the report was meant to be informed by the strategic assessment of projects in the world heritage area, which was not actually expected to be completed until August 2013.

A meeting of Environment Minister Tony Burke, his state counterpart Andrew Powell and resources ministers Martin Ferguson and Andrew Cripps was held in Brisbane on Tuesday.

During the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Forum, ministers discussed the strategic assessment, management issues and declining water quality, as well as the "outstanding universal value" (OUV) of the reef, as defined by the World Heritage Committee.

Ministers also discussed the committee's June request that Australia establish the OUV as a clearly defined element in environmental protection of the reef.

A communiqué from the meeting said Australia would submit an updated "state party report" to the World Heritage Committee on February 1, 2013, although the strategic assessment or the scoping document for the long-term plan would not be complete when the report is handed up to the WHC.


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