Federal Govt injects $60m to protect the Great Barrier Reef

Posted 30 January 2018

Heart Reef in the Great Barrier Reef
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has pledged an extra $60 million to boost efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef, but adversaries argue the funding is nowhere near enough to overcome threats to the world-renowned natural wonder.

The multimillion-dollar contribution will support farmers in reducing sediment run-off, boost the number of vessels battling coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish and support further research over the next 18 months.

There will also be additional field officers employed to provide early warning of further coral bleaching. However, critics argue the intended efforts are unlikely to make any real difference to the health of the reef. 

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Climate and Energy Campaigner Dr Nikola Casule told SBS the Federal Government should be doing more to battle the causes of climate change. 

"If Mr Turnbull genuinely cared about our precious reef and the 64,000 people who depend on it, he would get serious about fighting climate change instead of engaging in fantasy solutions that ignore the real issue," she said. 

Furthermore, James Cook University ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies Professorial Fellow Jon Brodie told SMH that removal of crown-of-thorns starfish has proven to be ineffective, and an increase in vessels is unlikely to change the outcome. 

"We've suspected for a long time there's no hope we can control the population level of the crown-of-thorns starfish by killing them one at a time. We did believe we could control them at small tourist sites...but it doesn't look like it works at that scale either,” he said. 

Agreeing with Casule on the need for more effective action against climate change, Brodie said: “The real solutions are being ignored, especially by the federal government. These are reducing emissions – the obvious one, and also managing water quality better."

And while one recipient of the funding, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, welcomed the contribution, the institute's chief executive Paul Hardisty noted that any successful reef recovery hinged on dealing with climate change too.

"These methods will need to go hand in hand with greenhouse gas mitigation and conventional management,” he said. 

"But they could be the difference in our efforts to preserve and protect the reef, and the tremendous value it provides to all Australians."

Greens Senator for Queensland Andrew Bartlett said agrees that the Federal Government must do more to curb the effects of climate change is the reef is to recover. 

“If Malcolm Turnbull was serious about protecting the Great Barrier Reef he would listen to scientists and transition away from the real reef-killer: the fossil fuel industry,” he said.

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