Australia will spend 60 million Australian dollars (approximately Rs 305 crore) over the next 18 months to protect the Great Barrier Reef. A sixth of the total package will be used on culling an infamous predator starfish that has been feasting on the coral reef.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the plan on Monday after facing severe criticism over the problem. The Great Barrier Reef supports 64,000 jobs, and is “priceless” and “a massive environmental and economic asset”, Turnbull said.
On January 5, scientists reported a major outbreak of the crown-of-thorns starfish, which were detected on 37 sections in the southern part of the reef. This is the fifth such outbreak in the coral reef since the 1960s, and the reason behind this one is still unclear, Reuters reported.
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef system and the largest living structure on earth. Normally, starfish are essential to the reef’s diversity, but when they reach large numbers, such as now, they eat coral faster than it can reproduce. The Great Barrier Reef already faces threats from rising ocean temperatures.
Of the total package, $6 million (Rs 30.5 crore) will go into research, $10 million (Rs 50 crore) into eradicating crown-of-thorns starfish, $36 million (Rs 183 crore) to support programs to protect the reef from harmful water.