Federal Govt pumps $2.2m in efforts to save Great Barrier Reef

Posted 17 January 2018

In a bid to reduce damage to the Great Barrier Reef as a result of coral bleaching events, the Federal Government has announced plans to install eight reef mixer fans off the Queensland coast. 

The government will contribute $2.2 million to the pilot project, with the solar-powered rotators being placed at Moore Reef off the coast of Cairns. 

Mounted on floating pontoons, the ReefMix fans will create water currents by drawing cooler water from down to 30m below to the surface.

Reef and Rainforest Research Centre Managing Director Sheriden Morris told ABC Online that the fans would aid the reef by mixing stratified layers of water that occur in warm temperatures.

"We've found from the 2016 and 2017 bleaching, areas where there was upwelling or currents bleached less and recovered quicker," she said.

"We're hoping that basically turning on the fan when it's really hot will help keep the corals a bit more comfortable.

"This intervention will never save the whole of the Great Barrier Reef, but it will be important for some of our particularly valuable tourist sites, which of course are 64,000 jobs.”

The turbines are to be constructed in Cairns and installed in February, with the tourism industry joining the Federal Government in funding the project. 

"What we do on land is when a species is particularly threatened… we may put a fence around it, kill all the feral cats and foxes," Morris said.

"This is doing almost an equivalent thing in the marine environment. Even if we decarbonise the economy tomorrow, we have 20 years of locked-in temperature increase, and so we have to start looking at how to protect some of that biodiversity."

The Reef and Rainforest Research Centre plans to expand the project to other sites if the pilot is a success.
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