Aus announces $379 mn funding for Great Barrier Reef

Australia has pledged £275 million to protect the world-famous Great Barrier Reef.

A major outbreak of coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish has been destroying areas of the world heritage listed reef, prompting a major cull in January. The $100 million will be used for reef restoration science, $45 million will be set aside for community engagement, $58 million will be allotted for combatting crown-of-thorn starfish, and $40 million dollars will be spent for monitoring the health of the reef system.

The funding will be confirmed in the May budget, according to the newspaper.

Investigations showed that two successive heat waves killed almost half of the corals in the most pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef.

Critics seized on Australia's subsidized development of gas and coal, especially its openness to the Adani coal mine in northern Australia that would be among the world's largest, pushing coal on boats running near the reef.

Crown-of-thorn starfish have been discovered eating their way through coral on the southern end of the reef.

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The bulk of the new funding - just over $151 million - was earmarked to improve water quality by changing farming practices and adopting new technologies and land management.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Climate and Energy Campaigner, Nikola Casule, said the Reef's destruction could be pinned on fossil fuels.

"The reef supports some 64,000 jobs, its worth to the economy is over AU$6 billion and it attracts more than 2 million visitors a year", Frydenberg told ABC.

"The money will go towards improving water quality, working with farmers to prevent sediment, nitrogen and pesticide runoff into the reef", said Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg. "And we must unlock new scientific insights that can help restore the reefs that have suffered damage", Dr Schubert said.

The government, in a partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, will contribute $444 million.

Huge sections of the reef stretching hundreds of miles across have died over the past two years, killed by overheated and more acidic seawater caused by climate change.

  • Douglas Reid