Queensland Tourismap

Coral bleaching warning hits highest level

ENVIRONMENTAL groups have called on the federal and Queensland governments to immediately review coal mining approvals following the lifting of the Great Barrier Reef's coral bleaching threat to level three - the highest rating.

Federal environment minister Greg Hunt said the bottom three quarters of the reef was "in strong condition" and had minor to moderate bleaching, but north of Lizard Island was more severe.

He said it was part of a broader El Nino pattern and announced the government would increase its monitoring.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Reef campaigner Shani Tager said the best way to protect the reef from climate change was to stop burning fossil fuels.

"This is the highest warning possible for the reef and it must be the line in the sand," she said.

Greens Senator Larissa Waters said scientists were clear - it was either coal or the reef.