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Seven wonders listing a natural for the GBR

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22 July 2009

AIMS welcomes the announcement made overnight in Zurich that the Great Barrier Reef is among the finalists for the title of "New 7 Wonders of Nature".

The GBR has progressed to stage of the process, moving from the stage 2 list of 77 nominees to be among the 28 finalists that will be put to a global popular vote to decide the final seven in 2011. The process is being conducted by the New 7 Wonders Foundation.

AIMS is Australia's tropical marine research agency and was established in 172 specifically to provide scientific underpinning for the protection of the Great Barrier Reef. Since then, the Institute has developed a great depth of expertise in investigating the complexities of the world's biggest biological system.

The GBR has immeasurable cultural significance and central role in this nation's identity. It is made up of a chain of more than 2,000 individual reefs and nearly 1,000 islands, and is about 2,00 kilometres long, a huge living entity filled with biodiversity.

"The Reef has a natural and rightful place among the wonders of the world," AIMS CEO Dr Ian Poiner said. "It is of immense cultural and economic importance to Australia, and contributes some $5.8 billion each year to Australia's economy in terms of tourism, agriculture, minerals, fishing and shipping.

"It is a magnet for marine scientists who are drawn to its research challenges and are inspired by its majesty," Dr Poiner said. "From such inspiration have come many new insights into how coral reef ecosystems operate."

While in more recent years AIMS has extended its research activities throughout all northern Australian waters, across the Top End and down to Ningaloo off the Western Australian coast, it maintains a strong and growing presence in the GBR.

AIMS operates the Long-term Monitoring Program to regularly check on the health of the Reef, providing information on population trends in key groups of organisms, particularly crown-of-thorns starfish, corals and reef fishes, over the length and breadth of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

The Institute is in the process of rolling out the high-tech Great Barrier Reef Ocean Observing System (GBROOS) which will provide a "digital skin" for the Reef, making possible more accurate forecasting and improved understanding of the processes sustaining the Reef's biodiversity.

AIMS' Great Barrier Reef water quality research program supports informed management, conservation and sustainable use of marine, coastal and catchment resources, especially by the tourism and aquaculture industries.

AIMS' research informs decision-making by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and development of state and federal government policy connected to marine issues through the best marine science in the world conducted right on the doorstep of the Reef.

"To us, the naming of the Great Barrier Reef as a 7 Wonders finalist makes perfect sense," Dr Poiner said. "We know how important it is, how vital it is to Australia's economy, environment and culture and how vulnerable it is to change.

"It is also, without any doubt, one of the most beautiful places on Earth," Dr Poiner said.

Cast a vote for the Great Barrier Reef -

For further information, please contact:

Dr Ian Poiner , AIMS CEO

Phone: 07 475 440, 041 702 652

Mr Steve Clarke, AIMS

Phone: 07 475 4264 , 041 668 47


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