Australia to pay for Great Barrier Reef restoration and protection

Bleached coral Great Barrier Reef

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will on Sunday commit $201 million to changing farming practices to improve water quality, $100 million for reef restoration research and $58 million to fight coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish linked to agricultural ocean run-offs.

The financial aid will go towards improving water quality on the great barrier reef, expanding reef restoration and developing coral that's more resistant to high temperatures and light stress.

"We'll be improving the monitoring of the reef's health and the measurement of its impacts", he said from Cairns in Far North Queensland.

According to the statement, the Great Barrier Reef brings in about $4.9 billion a year to the Queensland and Australian economies and provides about 64,000 jobs.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said regional countries looked to Australia's example as a world leader in reef management, as the government's 2050 Plan was approved by the World Heritage Committee as being a standard for the rest of the world to follow.

Crown-of-thorn starfish have been discovered eating their way through coral on the southern end of the reef. The opposition said the government could still fail to reach its target to reduce emissions 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

Some of the money will be used to help farmers near the reef change the way they do things.

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.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Climate and Energy Campaigner, Nikola Casule, said the Reef's destruction could be pinned on fossil fuels.

"Our elected representatives can't have it both ways", she said.

More details of the package will be detailed in the federal budget in May. Still, that was before a study released this month in Nature showed about 30 percent of the reef, which is bigger than Japan, died off in 2016 during an extended marine heatwave.

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