The reef is a critical national asset, contributing A$6.4 billion (RM19 billion) a year to the Australian economy. After that time, the Marine Park Authority will receive a guaranteed ongoing funding increase of more than $10 million per year for field management - doubling the Australian Government's contribution to the program in the long-term. This is a matter of concern because such bleaching was noticed in 1998 and 2002 but, appears to have become more frequent now probably due to climate change.
The plan would set aside roughly AU$200 million ($151 million) for improving water quality, working with farmers to reduce fertilizer use - especially sugar farmers, who dominate the rich coastal lands of tropical northern Australia. "And on average, across the entire length of the Great Barrier Reef we found that one in three corals died from the 2016 bleaching event", Director, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Terry Hughes said.
Speaking to reporters after the project's unveiling Sunday, Australian Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said the reef was under a lot of pressure, but those challenges could be overcome.
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In some parts of the Great Barrier Reef 80% of corals have been killed by bleaching.
Short episodes are usually recoverable, but repeated and lengthy periods of ocean warming (thanks to manmade climate change and warming) has damaged some sections far worse than scientists have ever seen before, and it's likely that much of it will never actually bounce back. The initiative also involves spending $58 million AUD (approximately $43.8 million USD) to halt the proliferation of the crown-of-thorns starfish, a toxic predator that eats corals.
"But while the world works to tackle climate change on a global scale, there are many things we can and must do to build the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef right now".
"Today's major investment brings real solutions within our grasp", he said. The money will be spent on reducing water pollution from agriculture, fighting coral-killing crown-of-thorns starfish, community engagement, reef monitoring, and research on climate adaptation. "These funds represent an unequalled opportunity to create a legacy of hope for future generations".