The GBR became a World Heritage site in 1981. It contains over 2,500 individual reefs and over 900 islands. There are over 1,500 species of fish, about 400 species of coral, 250 species of birds, and a huge range of sponges, anemones, worms, crustaceans and so on.
The GBR is facing many challenges. These include:
- declining water quality from land-based sources
- human activities such as port expansions, shipping, coastal development, tourism and fishing
- marine debris
- illegal activities such as fishing and poaching
- vulnerability to climate variability, climate change and extremes such as floods and cyclones..
These issues are of great concern to many people: people who live and work in the region, people whose livelihoods depend on the reef, tourists, scientists, governments, and the national and international community.