Geoscience Reference
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in 1975. At least partially as a result of human activities, some coral reef areas
have been degraded to the extent that recovery to their former condition is
now unlikely, and many other reef areas have been affected to a lesser extent.
Similarly, there is abundant evidence that some islands of the Great Barrier
Reef - particularly Raine, Green, Magnetic, Holbourne, North West, Heron,
Fairfax, Lady Musgrave and Lady Elliot Islands - were subjected to considerable
exploitation and had been significantly modified by the time of the formation
of the GBRMP. In addition, some of the impacts sustained by marine wildlife
species in the Great Barrier Reef have been severe and, whilst their ecological
consequences are not always easy to establish, it is clear that the over-exploitation
of some populations and species - sometimes over the decadal timescale - has
substantially increased their mortality, morbidity and vulnerability to other
environmental changes. Overall, the evidence presented in this topic suggests
that the Great Barrier Reef was exploited earlier, for a longer period, in more
locations and more intensively than has previously been documented. That story
- of the multiple and unprecedented uses of, and changes in, the Great Barrier
Reef since European settlement - forms the main subject of my narrative. Above
all, my account illustrates the damage that can be inflicted on coral reefs and
their associated habitats and species in the absence of effective environmental
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