Funding a ‘game changer’ for Great Barrier Reef



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Poisonous barbs of a crown-of-thorns starfish can be seen feasting on coral. IMAGE: Credit - UTS Dr Emma Camp.
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Could 'super corals' be a saviour for Great Barrier Reef?

THE $500 million injection for the Great Barrier Reef, which was announced on Sunday, is a 'game changer' in managing this great natural icon, according to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

The Australian Government’s largest single investment for the Reef sees a $443.3 million partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to invest in projects to tackle key risks to the Reef and seek co-funding from private investors and philanthropists.

The Marine Park Authority will also receive an additional $42.7 million for its joint field management program over the next six years. After that time, the Marine Park Authority will receive a guaranteed ongoing funding increase of more than $10 million per year for field management — doubling the Australian Government’s contribution to the program in the long-term.

Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said the investment would protect thousands of jobs, improve water quality, tackle coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish and implement scientific reef restoration.

He said it also reinforces the environmental, economic, social and cultural importance of the Great Barrier Reef.

“The World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef is the planet’s greatest living wonder and we are extremely fortunate it is in our own backyard,” Mr Entsch said.

“As current custodians, the onus is on us to do everything we can to protect, and maintain, our natural environments such as the Great Barrier Reef.

“I know environmental issues are extremely important to all Far North Queenslanders.

This is an investment not only in the future of the Great Barrier Reef, but also in Far North Queensland jobs and our local economy as the Reef attracts tourists from all over the world,” said Entsch.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Chairman Dr Russell Reichelt welcomed the funding, saying it was a 'game changer' as it significantly ramped up reef programs and protection and provided an ability to seek co-funding from private investors and philanthropists.

“We’re delighted the Australian Government provided this significant funding to protect one of the world’s most precious natural areas, the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.

“This is a hugely positive outcome for the Great Barrier Reef and comes at a critical time after back-to-back mass coral bleaching triggered by the increasing pressure of global warming.

“We’re delighted to continue working with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation as they explore the possibilities this funding provides, including opportunities to seek co-funding from investors to add to this investment,” said Dr Reichelt.

He said the funding provides us with a long-term guarantee of a strong on-water presence to manage the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area through the on-ground work by our field officers.

“It enables us to boost our efforts — there will be more people on the ground to ensure compliance, to undertake island and reef restoration activities, and respond to incidents, which will support the ability of reefs and islands to recover after disturbance.

“The future of the Great Barrier Reef relies on the collaboration and efforts of many to ensure this natural icon is protected now and into the future.”

This announcement follows a $58 million boost in January 2018, which provided initial funding for many components of this new investment.

“Today’s funding announcement demonstrates the Government’s ongoing commitment to achieve the Reef 2050 Plan initiatives and reflects the intent of our Reef Blueprint.

“With this announcement, the government is providing guaranteed funding for the future stages of these programs like field management and crown-of-thorns starfish control,” said Dr Reichelt said.

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