Money in Budget for Barrier Reef

30 April, 2018, 12:00 | Author: Courtney Reynolds
  • The package will help develop coral that is more resistant to high temperatures and light stress

"We are looking at a whole range of new initiatives, taking the best advice of the experts, working closely with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to ensure that the reef has its best chance into the future", Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said on Sunday in Cairns.

The reef is a critical national asset, contributing AU$6.4 billion a year to the Australian economy.

The landmark plan includes funds for improving water quality by reducing pollution from farm fertilizer runoff, and encourage reef restoration by experimenting with laboratory-grown coral that is more durable at higher temperatures, the New York Times reports. The opposition said the government could still fail to reach its target to reduce emissions 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

But conservationist group Greenpeace said the investment was a "band-aid" solution to climate change-driven destruction at the World Heritage site.

According to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the money spent will go towards improving water quality, tackling predators, and expanding restoration efforts.

It was the largest single investment yet to protect the reef, secure its viability and the 64 000 jobs that relied on the reef, Turnbull said.

Although some fear that much of the damage can not be undone, John Schubert, chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, believes that the government's attention gives the reef "real hope".

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Bill McKibben, founder of global grassroots climate movement 350.org, said: "Science is well aware of what is killing the coral - it's the excess heat from burning fossil fuels".

The reef is the world's largest living structure and it can even be seen from space.

Australian Conservation Foundation chief Kelly O'Shanassy agreed. "You can't have both", Ms Casule said in a Greenpeace statement on Sunday.

Critics seized on Australia's continued 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.

A serious outbreak of crown-of-thorns starfish — which might develop to 13in and have as much as 21 arms — is destroying the reef.

He said the government would work with traditional Aboriginal owners, the tourist industry, farmers and scientists, to save the reef, calling the commitment "a game-changer".

The world's largest coral reef, spanning 133,000 square miles, has endured extreme environmental strain in recent years, to the point that a fake obituary that was written for it in 2016 went viral.

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