Australia steps up to protect Barrier Reef

The package will help develop coral that is more resistant to high temperatures and light stress

The package will help develop coral that is more resistant to high temperatures and light stress

Australia's federal government is allotting half a billion dollars to help protect the Great Barrier Reef from climate change and other treats.

The funds will go toward combating water pollution, predatory coral-eating starfish, increasing public awareness and reef monitoring, as well as modifying surrounding businesses so that they are more environmentally sound, Turnbull's office said.

The rescue package comes after parts of the ailing reef were hit by two consecutive years of a major coral bleaching event linked to climate change in 2016 and 2017, coupled with the destruction wrought by a recent outbreak of coral-eating crown of thorns starfish.

The funding, which was confirmed in the May budget, came following results of studies that show the consequences of climate change on the world's largest coral reef system.

According to research by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, coral cover on surveyed reefs between 1985 and 2012 declined by about 50% over that 27 year period.

Although some fear that much of the damage can not be undone, John Schubert, chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, believes that the government's attention gives the reef "real hope".

According to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the money spent will go towards improving water quality, tackling predators, and expanding restoration efforts.

The Great Barrier Reef is considered to be one of the seven natural wonders of the world and is the largest living structure on the planet.

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

He said the funding represented the single largest investment for reef conservation and management in Australia's history. Crown-of-thorns starfish were responsible for nearly half of this decline.

The administration of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced Sunday it is earmarking more than AU$500 million, or $379 million in USA dollars, to protect the reef in partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

He said there was no doubt climate change had put the Reef under threat, but said there were tangible things Australia could do to build its resilience.

"But these are important initiatives, we continue to invest heavily recognising that all Australians have an investment, have an interest, have a stake in the future health of the Reef. And we must unlock new scientific insights that can help restore the reefs that have suffered damage", Dr Schubert said.

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