WELCOME NEWS: Marine scientist Callum Roberts with Geoff Bonney and Gladstone Conservation Council’s Cheryl Watson.
WELCOME NEWS: Marine scientist Callum Roberts with Geoff Bonney and Gladstone Conservation Council’s Cheryl Watson. Rebecca Davis

Conservation council warns money not sole solution for reef

THE Coalition unveiled its Reef 2050 Plan on Monday, with boosted funding to dugong and turtle protection and a $40 million war chest to establish a reef trust.

Shadow Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt announced the plan in Townsville.

Gladstone Conservation Council spokeswoman Cheryl Watson said she had not yet studied the plan in detail but welcomed any proactive moves to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

"Anything positive is welcomed by us because for any further port developments to happen they need fairly strong policies in place," Ms Watson said.

While encouraged by the added funding, Ms Watson warned that money was not the sole solution to the myriad issues surrounding the Reef and future development.

"Of course funding is welcome, but money is not the only answer," she said.

"It's not so much the amount of money being given but more so the policies and procedures a party is willing to implement that will have the most effect.

"I'd like to see the processes and how genuine the two parties really are about protecting the Reef."

As well as the $40 million commitment, the Coalition also unveiled plans to eradicate Crown of Thorns starfish, with a focus on nutrient run-off reduction as part of the Reef Trust.

Mr Hunt said $2 million would be allocated to the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre to remove the threat posed by Crown of Thorns infestations.

Dugong and turtle populations were also allocated $5 million, which included $2 million for a specialised Indigenous Ranger Program and National Dugong and Turtle Protection Plan.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society welcomed the Reef Trust but said the Coalition had fallen short in addressing World Heritage Committee concerns about future port development.

Reef 2050 Plan:

  • $40m to establish a reef trust
  • Focus on run-off reduction and crown of thorns eradication
  • $5m dugong and turtle protection plan


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