Government pledges $500 million to preserve Great Barrier Reef

Coral Experts Say Australia's $379M Great Barrier Reef Investment Won't Save It

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Australia has pledged £275 million to protect the world-famous Great Barrier Reef.

To tackle the growing problem of crown-of-thorns starfish, water pollution, and reef damage, the government will team up with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation where $444 million will be allocated to these particular areas.

The funding, announced on Sunday ahead of the May budget, is targeted at reducing fertiliser use to minimise agricultural run-off and improve water quality.

Mr Frydenberg said despite coral bleaching events in recent years, the Great Barrier Reef was "remarkably resilient" and it was important for the world to know that.

But in recent years, it has lost almost a third of its coral due to bleaching linked to rising sea temperatures and damage from crown-of-thorns starfish.

Critics seized on Australia's 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.

However, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that Australia was a world leader in managing and protecting its reef, as the government's Reef 2050 plan had been approved by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee as being the standard for the rest of the world to follow. Crown-of-thorns starfish were responsible for nearly half of this decline.

"Millions of dollars will go into science and to better data management, and to be able to test the impacts on the reef", he said.

Frydenberg also stressed the importance of the reef to the Australian economy.

The bulk of the new funding - just over $151 million - was earmarked to improve water quality by changing farming practices and adopting new technologies and land management.

"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.

The new funding comes after Deloitte Access Economics valued the reef last year at A$56 billion, based on an asset supporting tens of thousands of jobs and which contributes A$6.4 billion a year to the economy.

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