2019 Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report

Five years in the making and underpinned by the best available science, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has released its 2019 Outlook Report which takes a deep dive into the Reef’s health, pressures, and likely future.

#11 things to know about the report


The Reef is a vast, spectacular and resilient system. The Reef can recover if it is free of disturbances and impacts for a long enough period. The window of opportunity to act is now and everyone has a role to play. Actions taken now will matter.


Because of the extensive size of the marine park (it's bigger than New Zealand!), its health and condition is variable. Many areas continue to support beautiful corals and abundant marine life and the Reef remains an extraordinary experience for visitors.


There has been no change to the highest ranked threats to the Reef since the previous Outlook Report in 2014.


The greatest threat to the Reef is climate change. The other main threats are associated with coastal development, land-based run-off (which affects water quality), and direct human use (such as illegal fishing).


The outstanding universal value of the World Heritage Area remains whole and intact, but its integrity is challenged and deteriorating.


The long-term outlook for the Reef’s ecosystem was assessed as “poor” in 2014. In 2019 the projected outlook for the next five to 25 years has been assessed as “very poor”. The long-term outlook for the Region’s heritage values has been assessed as poor.


Improving the outlook for the Reef requires local, national and global action on the greatest threats. Without this, the overall outlook for the Great Barrier Reef’s ecosystem will remain very poor, with continuing consequences for its heritage values.


The Outlook Report is based on evidence from existing research and information across Jan 2014 to Dec 2018. This time included mass bleaching events in 2016 and 2017 and six tropical cyclones that exposed over 50% of the Reef to destructive waves.


Since 2014, management initiatives and local actions have demonstrated positive outcomes for less complex and small scale activities, such as ports management and tourism.


Bright spots identified in the report included some signs of recovery in species, eg humpback whale populations are healthy and the southern green turtle population is thought to be increasing.


A comprehensive review of the Reef 2050 Plan – one of the greatest multi-jurisdictional efforts to protect the Reef – in 2020 will address the findings of the Outlook Report to continue the transformational progress required.