Australia pledges $502 million to restore Great Barrier Reef

Australia pledges $502 million to restore Great Barrier Reef

"The reef supports some 64,000 jobs, over $6 billion it is worth to the economy, and attracts more than 2 million visitors a year."

The funding, to be unveiled today, will go towards improving water quality, tackling the crown-of-thorns starfish, and expanding reef restoration. 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.

"We must improve water quality".

Image: Bleached coral is photographed on Australia's Great Barrier Reef near Port Douglas, February 20, 2017 in this handout image from Greenpeace.

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He said the funding represented the single largest investment for reef conservation and management in Australia's history.

"Science is well aware of what is killing coral on the Great Barrier Reef - it's the excess heat that comes from burning fossil fuels", he told The New York Times.

UNESCO considered putting it on the "in danger" list a year ago due to recent widespread destruction but voted against it, allowing Australia's conservative government to dodge political embarrassment and potential damage to the country's tourism industry.

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

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Critics seized on Australia's continued subsidized development of gas and coal, especially its openness to the Adani coal mine in northern Australia that would be among the world's largest, pushing coal on boats running near the reef.

The bulk of the new funding - just over A$200 million (RM590 million) - was earmarked to improve water quality by changing farming practices and adopting new technologies and land management. It also aims to ramp up the fight against coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish, and breed coral that is more resistant to high temperatures and light stress.

He said the government would work with traditional Aboriginal owners, the tourist industry, farmers and scientists, to save the reef, calling the commitment "a game-changer".

The Great Barrier Reef, which can be seen from space, covers 348,000sq/km and was world heritage listed in 1981 as the most extensive and spectacular coral reef ecosystem on the planet, according to the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) website.

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The 2016 bleaching event, the worst on record, mainly affected the north of the reef, while the recent damage has mostly impacted the middle sections, according to scientists at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

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