The Turnbull government has committed $500 million to a protection package for the Great Barrier Reef — the largest of its kind in Australian history.
The project will aim improve water quality, target coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) and implement scientific reef restoration of the reef.
According to research by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, coral cover on surveyed reefs between 1985 and 2012 declined by about 50% over that 27 year period. Crown-of-thorns starfish were responsible for almost half of this decline.
It will also support the 64,000 existing jobs on the reef as well as create thousands more.
“We want to ensure the reef’s future for the benefit of all Australians, particularly those whose livelihood depends on [it],” Turnbull said on Sunday.
“It is an investment not only in the future of the Great Barrier Reef, but also in Australian jobs and our economy through the tourists the Reef attracts every year.
“Like reefs all over the world, the Great Barrier Reef is under pressure. A big challenge demands a big investment – and this investment gives our Reef the best chance.”
He added: “This unprecedented investment reinforces the environmental, economic, social and cultural importance of the Great Barrier Reef, and that there is a role for everyone in protecting it for generations to come.”
The Great Barrier Reef provides $6.4 billion a year to the Queensland and Australian economies.
As part of the package, to be detailed in the May federal budget, the Turnbull Government will partner with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation through a $444 million agreement to tackle the COTS, reduce pollution and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority the Department of the Environment and Energy will also be boosted with $56 million to expand environmental management and compliance operations on the reef.
And the authority’s future funding has also been secured with an additional $10 million each year from 2022-23 to continue and expand essential work across the World Heritage Area.
The new package build on the joint $2 billion Australian and Queensland Governments’ Reef 2050 Plan.
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