Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten, speaking in Cairns yesterday, pledged an A$500 million fund towards research and programs to help protect Australia’s environmental icon The Great Barrier Reef.
Recent surveys indicated coral bleaching has killed more than a third of coral in the Great Barrier Reef’s north and central regions. “All of this”, said Mr Shorten, “is at risk if serious action is not taken to protect it. The Great Barrier Reef is an environmental treasure Australia holds on trust for the world”.
The Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies performed the surveys. Bleaching is associated with higher-than-average water temperatures resulting from El Niño events, affected by climate change.
ARC said bleaching had affected all but seven percent of the reef. This bleaching event is the third of its kind with notable occurrences in 1998 and 2002. This event in particular has had the biggest impact on the reef so far.
Two weeks ago, James Cook University scientists said the government would have to commit A$10 billion over the next decade or the reef would be incurable in half that time.
Mr Shorten’s $500 million investment in research and protection of the reef would be spread over four years.