The Australian Coral Reef Society: the last 40 years of a century working with Australia's coral reefs

Publication Name

Historical Records of Australian Science


On the 100-year anniversary of the Australian Coral Reef Society (ACRS), previously known as the Great Barrier Reef Committee (GBRC), we provide an overview of ACRS activities throughout its history, with a detailed account of key milestones in the last 40 years. We outline how the ACRS as promoted the protection and conservation of reefs, through expert advice, reviews, and submissions to enquiries. Examples are provided under the following themes: ACRS consultancy on zoning the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Marine Park, marine protected area design, water quality on the GBR, port expansions along the Queensland coastline and environmental reform for the offshore oil and gas industry. We illustrate how scientists over recent decades have worked to better understand and encourage policy responses to the impacts of climate change on Australia's coral reefs. For a hundred years, the GBRC-ACRS has provided an avenue for Australian coral reef scientists, managers and conservationists to influence reef governance through policy. While these unique avenues for delivering timely and targeted expertise have helped to reduce proximate threats to reefs at local scales, their outcome in relation to climate change, arguably the largest threat to Australia's coral reefs, remains to be seen.

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