Thousands of scientists have signed a statement calling for immediate action on climate change to save the world's remaining coral reefs.
More than 2500 marine researchers signed the consensus statement from the International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns, which calls for global action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The statement calls for action to prevent rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification, overfishing and pollution from the land.
''The international Coral Reef Science Community calls on all governments to ensure the future of coral reefs, through global action to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and via improved local protection of coral reefs,'' the statement read.
Professor Terry Hughes, convener of the symposium and director f the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, said Australia's Great Barrier Reef was a prime example of a reef in need of protection.
''Unfortunately in Queensland, the rush to get as much fossil fuel out of the ground as quickly as possible ... has pushed environmental concerns far into the background,'' he said.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recently released a report that was highly critical of Australia's management of the Great Barrier Reef.
It said the reef could be listed as a World Heritage site in danger unless high-risk coastal developments, including new ports in Queensland, were shelved.
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