Marine conservationists welcome funding commitment to help tackle water pollution on our Great Barrier Reef

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has welcomed the Morrison government’s announcement that it will invest in a range of projects that will help tackle local issues threatening our Great Barrier Reef. Most of the funding will be dedicated to addressing water pollution flowing from agricultural lands into the inshore areas of our Reef.

“We welcome this investment in tackling one of the big threats to the future of the Reef. The continuation and boosting of funding to address water pollution is essential to build our Reef’s resilience to climate change. We look forward to seeing the details, but the intention to target money towards tackling legacy issues like erosion and land condition is a gap that needed to be addressed,” said AMCS water quality expert Jaimi Webster.

“Given the health crisis the Reef is facing and the slow progress in addressing water pollution to date, it’s important this investment in water quality is front-loaded over the next three years. This is especially critical given commitments by both the Queensland and Australian governments still fall short of the estimated $4bn needed to meet the 2025 water quality targets both governments have agreed to.

“To get the most out of this investment, projects should be outcomes-focussed and coordinated with the Queensland Government to fully meet the Reef 2050 water quality targets. We look forward to working with the Australian government to ensure those funds are targeted at the areas that need them the most.

“There is also welcome funding announced to tackle illegal fishing, which we hope to see directed to protecting iconic threatened species like dugongs, turtles and sawfish, which continue to be trapped and killed in gillnets on our Reef. With investment in the announcement on increased monitoring, funding should be targeted at on-water programs like cameras on fishing boats and spatial protection from gillnets in areas of high conservation value.

“While this funding commitment will tackle some of the local threats our Reef faces, it does not address climate change – the greatest threat to our Reef. Investment in both local threats and the climate crisis is essential if we are to ensure the Reef remains for many generations to come.

“Currently areas of the Great Barrier Reef are on high alert for a major bleaching event, which is unprecedented during the La Nina weather pattern. This potential bleaching event shows how desperately our Reef needs the government to drastically increase their climate ambition.

“Tackling the climate crisis across the next decade could create incredible economic opportunities for regional Queensland with new wind, solar and battery projects, as well as helping the Reef and the 60,000 tourism jobs that rely on it.

“We urge the government and opposition to commit to emissions reduction targets that are compatible with no more than 1.5C of warming – a critical threshold for our Reef. Their current 2030 targets will ensure 1.5C is overshot. For the sake of the Reef, the tourism and fishing industries that rely on it being healthy, it is imperative the Coalition and Labor accelerate their plans to cut emissions in this crucial decade.”

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