Australia on Monday announced a plan to invest 60 million dollars (48 million US dollars) towards saving corals in the Great Barrier Reef.
The majority of the funding will go towards initiatives incentivizing local farmers to prevent pollution from entering reef waters, while some of the money will be spent on targeting an outbreak of coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish.
‘The Turnbull government will support world-first research to secure the viability of the Great Barrier Reef and the 64,000 jobs that rely on its prosperity,’ a government statement said.
Six million dollars will fund research and development programs for reef restoration, and five million will go towards early warning systems to prevent further coral bleaching, as well as for reef and island management interventions.
The reef, off Australia's north-east coast, suffered from the first ever back-to-back coral bleaching events in 2016 and 2017.
The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest conglomerate of coral reefs - larger than Italy. It is also a top tourist attraction in Australia, generating some 6.4 billion dollars a year.
Environmental groups criticized Turnbull for just ‘tinkering around the edges’ and not addressing harmful emissions and climate change.
‘If he genuinely cared about our precious reef... he would get serious about fighting climate change instead of engaging in fantasy solutions that ignore the real issue,’ said Nikola Casule, Greenpeace Australia's campaigner.
Australia is one of the largest exporters of coal in the world and is among the highest per capita emitter of carbon dioxide.
Last year, the Australian government narrowly avoided having the Reef added to the UNESCO ‘in danger’ list after promising to spend two billion dollars to implement measures to protect and manage it.
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