Projects help halt reef degradation
THE Federal Government has agreed to fund projects to control erosion and sediment run-off into the Great Barrier Reef and force down crownof-thorns starfish numbers.
This takes the form of $15 million, taken from the $140 million Reef Trust, being allocated to projects such as a tender to reduce fertiliser run-off from cane farms and $7 million to cull the crown-ofthorns.
The move is largely in response to the threat from the World Heritage Committee to see the Great Barrier Reef listed as “in danger”.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt has indicated the government’s belief is this will not eventuate, saying the government “knows the reef retains the values for which it was listed as a World Heritage site in 1981”.
However, the latest Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report shows more than half of these values are in decline.
On the back of such knowledge, many scientists and activists are urging the government to pledge at least $1 billion to halt the decline of the reef.
However, the government has said any further cash injections would be informed by an independent expert panel.
Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen, has also entered the debate, referencing a report from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, which shows reef health improved from 2012-13 to 2013-14.
“This report card shows the reef is recovering and getting healthier, and this shows that the Abbott government’s intervention measures are working,” Mr Christensen said.
Mr Christensen went a step further, saying he was right in his claims that the region could see job growth without impacting the reef.
“This is what I’ve said all along,” he said. “Now I expect we will hear some praise for our actions from the extreme green movement.”
Although Mr Christensen acknowledged scientists said it was hard to know whether this improvement was due to better land management or simply weather factors, he has called for the community to “give credit where credit is due”.
“This government has invested heavily in measures to improve water quality through the Reef Trust and the research shows that we are now seeing that improvement,” he said.