Extraordinary claims in Great Barrier Reef assessment require evidence
A new Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority report, published in PNAS, the journal of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, claims remarkably rapid, large, widespread and diverse environmental and economic benefits from the expanded protected areas introduced on the Great Barrier Reef in 2004. An examination of this report finds:
- The authors declare no conflict of interest, yet all 21 are employed by or recipients of generous funding from GBRMPA and they are reviewing outcomes of their own findings and recommendations.
- Claimed results of protection are notably larger, more rapid, widespread and uniformly positive than has been observed anywhere else or than appears probable.
- Several of the most important claims are contradicted by other more extensive work from the same researchers and such disparity is glossed over or ignored.
- The major claim of a doubling of fish on protected reefs rests on a single example inconsistent with abundant other evidence including that which is presented in the report itself.
- Economic analysis is heavily distorted by attributing total value for all tourism in the region to the reef, when only half of visitors even take a one day reef tour.
- Scant actual evidence is provided to support claims.
The full text by Walter Starck is available in a pdf file here…