The federal government is beefing up its protection of the Great Barrier Reef to prevent the United Nations from stripping it of its world heritage status.
But the moves have failed to please green groups, who plan to protest in Brisbane on Friday over the threats they believe the reef faces from proposed coal and gas developments.
UNESCO raised concerns about the reef last year when it sent a team to Queensland to investigate the likely impact of expanded port development and shipping along the coast.
It made a number of recommendations to the government, prompting green groups to warn the reef could be bumped to the 'world heritage in danger' list if UNESCO didn't receive a response by February 1.
Environment Minister Tony Burke on Friday announced he'd met the deadline, responding to UNESCO's concerns in a report presented to the world heritage committee.
The government had made 'substantial progress' in addressing the UNESCO recommendations, including by undertaking one of the most detailed strategic assessments in Australia's history, he said.
This assessment, still in its draft stage, would help determine where sustainable development could occur, what projects could proceed and what conditions they'd have to meet.
'The Great Barrier Reef is an iconic Australian environmental asset, the Gillard government is absolutely committed to the protection of the reef and our oceans,' Mr Burke said in a statement.
He pledged a further $800,000 to fight the crown-of-thorns starfish, a major threat both to the reef ecosystem and the $6 billion tourism industry it supports.
A chairperson has been assigned to an independent review into developments at Queensland's Gladstone port, a major sticking point for UNESCO and local environment groups.
But in a scorecard published by the fight for the reef campaign on Friday, the Commonwealth and Queensland governments were given the thumbs down for their efforts in managing Gladstone harbour.
The federal government was also blasted for making no progress on the UNESCO recommendations relating to pollution from catchments and port developments.
WWF campaign director Richard Leck said the government had failed to address UNESCO's concerns and Australia was still in grave danger of losing the reef's world heritage title.
'This scorecard shows Australia is falling short of what's required to save the reef,' Mr Leck said in a statement.
The campaign, formed by the Australian Marine Conservation Society and the World Wildlife Fund, warns 45 proposed developments - including large-scale coal and gas projects - could bring thousands more ships to the reef.
The reef was granted world heritage status in 1981 but has since faced numerous threats, including coral bleaching, cyclones, runoff, crown-of-thorns starfish and commercial activity.
In Sydney, activists objecting to the proposed developments staged a protest by snorkelling in Hyde Park's historic Archibald Fountain.
'People have come today dressed in their snorkels, swimmers and flippers in a colourful protest to talk about the risk that we're taking with letting coal development go ahead and threatening the Great Barrier Reef,' Georgina Woods, senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace told AAP.
Curious onlookers watched the protestors jump in the fountain with signs and cardboard fish despite the strong winds and cold water.
Ms Woods said the fountain was chosen because Sydney tourists would need a new spot to snorkel if the World Heritage site was destroyed.
One protester held a sign which read, 'Dear Tourists, Great Barrier Reef destroyed by coal but we still have this fountain. Enjoy'.