Saving the Great Barrier Reef
Australia has pledged more than $2 billion to save the iconic living structure.
Nearly two million international visitors come to the Australian state of Queensland annually to see the Great Barrier Reef, helping to contribute more than $5 billion to the country’s economy and supporting nearly 70,000 full-time jobs. The living structure is the world’s largest reef system, giving home to more than 1,500 species of fish and 242 species of birds.
According to Australia’s National Coral Bleaching Taskforce, scientists report the Great Barrier Reef is experiencing its worst mass-bleaching event in its history. Australia has experienced high summer temperatures and the hottest fall on record. Global warming and climate change are raising water temperatures, which, especially when combined with agricultural runoff and pollution, causes coral bleaching and mass die-offs.
The Australian government, in partnership with the Queensland government, is taking action under the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan to improve ecosystem health, biodiversity and water quality of the reef. Under the plan, the Australian and Queensland governments are projected to jointly invest more than $2 billion over the next 10 years for research and management activities on the reef. The goal is to manage and protect the reef from the impacts of climate change, commercial fishing, land-based runoff, coastal land-use change and other threats. These actions include vessel monitoring, net-free fishing zones, regulation of debris from vessels and urban environments, and management systems for vulnerable species and habitats, such as marine turtle nesting areas.
Image credit: iStockphoto