The World Heritage-listed site, The Great Barrier Reef of Australia which attracts 6.4 billion dollars a year to the country’s economy & millions of tourists, is reeling from significant bouts of coral bleaching due to warming sea temperatures. The rise in sea temperatures is one of the consequences of Global Warming. The reef is also under threat from the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish, which has increased rapidly due to pollution and agricultural race.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said more than 500 million Australian dollar (USD 400 million) will go towards improving water quality and expanding restoration efforts for the reef.
Turnbull said it was the “largest ever single investment – to protect the reef, secure its viability and the 64,000 jobs that rely on the reef”.
“We want to ensure the reef’s future for the benefit of all Australians, particularly those whose livelihood depends on the reef,” he added. He also added that the money will be used to mitigate the impacts of climate change, but gave no details.
Previously, Canberra has committed more than 2 billion dollar to protect the site over the next decade.
The bulk of the new funding of over 200 million dollar, was earmarked to improve water quality by changing farming practices and adopting new technologies.
“The money will go towards improving water quality, working with farmers to prevent sediment, nitrogen and pesticide runoff into the reef,” said Josh Frydenberg, Australian Environment Minister.
“It will ensure that we tackle the crown-of-thorns… and use the best available science to ensure our coral is resilient to heat and light stress.” 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”.
Earlier this month, scientists said the site suffered a “catastrophic die-off” of coral during an extended heatwave in 2016, threatening a wide range of reef life ever before.
A study in the journal Nature shows that corals suffered a catastrophic die-off, transforming the three-dimensionality and ecological functioning of 29% of the 3,863 reefs comprising the world’s largest coral reef system.