Australian Government Pledge $1bn To Save Coral Reef

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledges to spend an extra $1 billion to save the coral reef if re-elected this year.

coral reef

With the federal elections looming on Friday, Morrison has promised an additional $1bn in conservation and protection of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The announcement that is set to be made on Friday, if Morrison wins the federal election, will take place officially in Cairns. Known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns has become a hub for tourism and will be the perfect spot to unveil the plans for protection of the reef.

The news broke, unofficially, about a month after the Labour party offered a package sum of $163m to help restore the natural wonders of Australia. Labour MP Anthony Albanese was touring Queensland for votes when the amount for funding the conservation of the reef was first announced.

Morrison’s pledge of an extra $1bn, is an additional amount to the $2 billion that has already been put in place for the Reef 2050 Plan. The money will be split into different sectors for expenditure, including over half for water quality.

$253m will be spent on specifically the conservation and management, which also covers the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) working to prevent illegal fishing and combat crown-of-thorns starfish. An issue that has become prominent within recent years along the Great Barrier Reef, the crown-of-thorns starfish feeds off of coral weakened from over-fishing and coral bleaching, due to human activity. The government has stated that the new investment will protect almost double the number of areas from the harmful starfish, covering 500 reefs, instead of 253.

Money will also further go into monitoring the health systems of the reef and $74.4m will specifically target marine restoration and debris protection. The breakdown of costs seems well-devised and covers all that is essential to targeting the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef, but this is just a follow-on from a system that has already been set in place by Morrison.

The Reef 2050 Plan

As previously mentioned, the $1bn investment is additional to $2bn dollars that are already going to the Reef 2050 Plan. The purpose of the 2050 plan is to address the damage that is being done by climate change to the coral reef and implement actions that will help salvage it and restore the reef back to health. With help and guidance from marine biologists and experts, steps have been put into place to ensure that the Great Barrier Reef is carefully observed and protected. The Long Term Sustainability Plan means that disposal of material from capital dredging projects will be banned, and marine wildlife will be protected from poaching in newer tougher laws.

coral bleaching

Above: Image shows coral bleaching caused by human activity.

Although in theory a great plan, Australia came under fire last July by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation for not doing enough to ensure the protection of the Great Barrier Reef. It was recommended to the Australian government that the reef be put on the list of world heritage in danger. Due to great protest by Morrison’s government, no further action was taken past a recommendation but the committee asked Australia to provide a report by February 1st, explaining strategies for how the reef will be protected.

Therefore, the $1bn dollar plan comes at a perfect time to help ensure that the Great Barrier reef is not the first-ever site to be put onto the “in danger” list purely due to global warming.

Why is protecting the Great Barrier Reef so important?

In short, it is essential to our planet’s preservation. Coral Reefs are an essential part of our ecosystem and are home to thousands of species that all rely on each other for survival. In the Great Barrier Reef alone there are 3,000 individual reefs that all are an intrinsic element of carbon absorption, creating cleaner air for us all. However, it is also where the marine food chain begins. Without it, all the species that live and feed off of the coral die, which creates a knock-on effect to species such as fish, sharks, and eventually leading all the way back to us.

The Great Barrier Reef is also an important part of Australia’s economy. As one of the seven wonders of the world, it brings in $6.4bn to Australia’s economy and supports 64,000 jobs.

A true natural phenomenon, the Great Barrier Reef is something that we all hope will be thriving for generations to come.

Is it possible?

With the combined $3bn investment and expert minds working to ensure more is done to preserve the reef and all the beautiful life that surrounds it, we hope so.