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TSRA concerned over grim reef bleaching forecast and impact to Torres Strait region

The Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) acknowledges coral bleaching concerns for the reef in the region according to a recent forecast by the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The NOAA report states that by March next year the entire Great barrier Reef has a 60 per cent chance of being subject to “bleaching alert level one”, where bleaching is likely.

A marine heatwave that impacted coral reefs around the world in 2016-17 lead to mass coral bleaching across the central and western Torres Strait.It is understoodthe coral reefs in the eastern Torres Strait escaped bleaching due to the deeper water and the upwelling of cooler water off the continental shelf.

TSRA Chairperson, Mr Napau Pedro Stephen AM said, whilst theyare still unsure as to the impacts of the coral bleaching on Torres Strait fisheries, the very warm water did impact the Tropical Rock Lobster fishery in the 2016-17 season.

“The Torres Strait is on the front line of climate impacts, including sea level rise on low-lying communities and the impacts of climate change on the region’s very significant marine environment and fisheries,” Mr Stephen said.

“The TSRA is concerned that not enough is being done to tackle the issue of climate change nationally and internationally.

“Currently the world is still on track to far exceed 1.5 degree of warming which is the level at which most of the world’s coral reefs are likely to die.

“Another heatwave over the coming summer would significantly slow down the recovery of bleached reefs in our region.

“TSRA is working with the CSIRO, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and the Australian Institute of Marine Science to better understand the implications for climate change on the region’s fisheries and to consider adaptation measures to help reduce these impacts.

“Unless there are urgent and significant steps taken by all levels of government locally and internationally to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, regions such as the Torres Strait will face an increasingly difficult and uncertain future.”

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