Australia pledges millions of dollars in bid to save Great Barrier Reef

Ignacio Smith
April 30, 2018

Australia's Great Barrier Reef will receive A$500 million ($379.10 million) in new funding to restore water quality and protect the coral from starfish attacks, government ministers announced on Sunday. Moreover, $58 million will be committed to fight crown-of-thorns starfish, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported.

The funding, which was confirmed in the May budget, came following results of studies that show the consequences of climate change on the world's largest coral reef system.

But scientists and environmental advocates warn that the 1,400-mile-long Great Barrier Reef is already facing a full ecosystem collapse with global warming increasing water temperatures and acidity, leading to extensive coral bleaching.

"Today's investment brings real hope to the Great Barrier Reef", Dr Schubert said.

A 2017 survey found coral mortality varied from the northern to the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef.

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Kelly O'Shanassy, CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation, also stressed that climate change and the use of fossil fuels are the major cause of the reef's destruction.

Unless the coral conservation plan is accompanied by a "strong policy, to slash our carbon pollution, stop the Adani coal mine and rapidly shift Australia to renewable energy, we will not see a future for the reef", said Imogen Zethoven of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Australia's ABC News reports.

Speaking to reporters after the project's unveiling Sunday, Australian Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said the reef was under a lot of pressure but those challenges could be overcome.

According to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the money spent will go towards improving water quality, tackling predators, and expanding restoration efforts. We must address crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks.

It was the largest single investment yet to protect the reef, secure its viability and the 64 000 jobs that relied on the reef, Turnbull said.

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"Millions of dollars will go into science and to better data management and to be able to test the impacts on the reef", he added.

Earlier this month, scientists said the site suffered a "catastrophic die-off" of coral during an extended heatwave in 2016, threatening a broader range of reef life than previously feared.

"These funds represent an unequaled opportunity to create a legacy of hope for future generations".

The Great Barrier Reef provides $6.4 billion a year to the Queensland and Australian economies.

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