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Australian federal government pledges money to help great barrier reef

29 April 2018

The Australian government is planning to spend AU$500 million (US$380 million, €312 million) to help restore and protect the endangered Great Barrier Reef, Australian broadcaster ABC reported Sunday.

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

Mr Frydenberg said the money would also go towards improving water quality, tackling the Crown-of-thorns starfish and scientific research.

Investigations showed that two successive heat waves killed almost half of the corals in the most pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef.

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"Science is well aware of what's killing the coral".

Australian Conservation Foundation chief Kelly O'Shanassy agreed.

However, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that Australia was a world leader in managing and protecting its reef, as the government's Reef 2050 plan had been approved by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee as being the standard for the rest of the world to follow.

But in recent years, it has lost almost a third of its coral due to bleaching linked to rising sea temperatures and damage from crown-of-thorns starfish. "You can't have both", Ms Casule said in a Greenpeace statement on Sunday.

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The fight for the reef has helped to open up a debate in Australia over the future of coal, the nation's second-largest export earner which has been blamed by scientists for causing greenhouse gases that have contributed to man-made climate change.

The $201 million of the funding package will be allocated for improving water quality, which involves changing farming practices such as reducing fertilizer use.

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". Still, that was before a study released this month in Nature showed about 30 percent of the reef, which is bigger than Japan, died off in 2016 during an extended marine heatwave.

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Australian federal government pledges money to help great barrier reef