Scientists have concluded that the Great Barrier Reef can no longer be saved because it is so damaged.
The plight of the reef is partly due to the "extraordinary rapidity" of climate change, according to experts.
The reef has been severely damaged by the warming of the oceans, and around 95 per cent of it suffers from bleaching, according to scientists who surveyed it in 2016.
Experts have said the ecological function of the reef should be maintained as much as possible in coming years, but that the reef itself will not be saved in its current form.
A committee of experts set up by the Australian government said the lesser target of "protecting the ecological function" of the reef is more realistic than salvaging it.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority explained what this would mean: "The concept of 'maintaining ecological function' refers to the balance of ecological processes necessary for the reef ecosystem as a whole to persist, but perhaps in a different form, noting the composition and structure may differ from what is currently seen today".
They said they were "united in their concern about the seriousness of the impacts facing the Reef and concluded that coral bleaching since early 2016 has changed the Reef fundamentally".
"Members agreed that, in our lifetime and on our watch, substantial areas of the Great Barrier Reef and the surrounding ecosystems are experiencing major long-term damage which may be irreversible unless action is taken now.
"The planet has changed in a way that science informs us is unprecedented in human history. While that in itself may be cause for action, the extraordinary rapidity of the change we now observe makes action even more urgent."
"There is great concern about the future of the Reef, and the communities and businesses that depend on it, but hope still remains for maintaining ecological function over the coming decades," their statement continued.
Because it is believed the coral bleaching is due to global warming, reducing carbon emissions is integral to the plans to maintain the ecological function of the reef.
They also said: "This needs to be coupled with increased efforts to improve the resilience of the coral and other ecosystems that form the Great Barrier Reef. The focus of efforts should be on managing the Reef to maintain the benefits that the Reef provides".