A third vessel will soon be plying the waters between Port Douglas and Townsville, culling the coral eating crown-of-thorns starfish, thanks to $14.4 million of funding from the Turnbull Government.
The funding, which will be provided to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) under the Reef 2050 Plan, will support all three crown-of-thorns starfish control vessels until 2020, greatly increasing the Authority’s capacity to protect the Reef.
This funding boost is a clear and immediate demonstration of the Turnbull Government’s commitment to addressing the challenges the Reef is facing.
By increasing the number of control vessels, we will significantly bolster the ability of the Reef to recover not only from crown-of-thorns predation, but also other impacts, including damage from cyclones and bleaching.
GBRMPA will soon seek applications from prospective contractors to deliver the additional activities from the third vessel.
The current crown-of-thorns starfish outbreak is most heavily concentrated in the central zone of the Marine Park between Port Douglas and Townsville where the 2017 bleaching was most pronounced.
Already, control vessels have helped keep the starfish population to below outbreak levels on key reefs in the Cairns region. This additional vessel will enable the expansion of efforts in the central section of the Marine Park.
The more coral we can protect, the more larvae there will be to repopulate the surrounding reefs. By culling the starfish, we are directly contributing to the Reef’s ability to regenerate.
The Crown-of-thorns Starfish Outbreak Management Program is one element of the Turnbull Government’s overall commitment to protecting the Reef, which includes actions to mitigate climate change, improving the quality of water entering the Reef and world class marine park management.
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