Coral expert slams $60 million Great Barrier Reef package as useless

Coral expert, Dr Charlie Veron, has warned the Government's new $60 million package for the Great Barrier Reef will make no difference to the future of the Reef, as the main threat is warming oceans due to climate change.

The package, to be delivered over the next 18 months, includes:

  • $10.4 million to allow the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to increase the number of vessels targeting the crown of thorns starfish from three to eight.

  • $36.6 million to reduce pollution from water entering the Reef.

  • $4.9 million to put more field officers on the water, improving compliance, and providing early warning of further bleaching and delivering more reef and island management interventions.

  • $6 million for the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the CSIRO to scope and design a research and development program for coral reef restoration.

Speaking on ABC Radio National, Dr Veron said the package, other than expenditure on pure research, would have no effect on the future of the reef.

“This won't in any way affect the huge problem that the Great Barrier Reef faces now, which is due to climate change, which is due to increase in water temperature. In fact, the crown of thorns starfish will starve to death because there won't be any coral if we keep on the path we are keeping on.

“Australia now is the pariah country of the world when it comes to mitigating carbon dioxide, and that is a terrible position to be in.

“Australia is second only to Canada in per capita release of carbon dioxide. It has now become the world's biggest exporter of coal which is the most serious source of carbon dioxide. The Australian Government has been strongly supporting the Adani mine, which will completely change the whole outlook for carbon dioxide production. So Australia is not pulling its weight at all.

“Unless we stop the mining of coal, the burning of coal, climate change is going to keep on its reckless path and the Great Barrier Reef will not survive.”

“We are in fact helping the Great Barrier Reef follow the worst predictions that have been made. Scientists predicted this a long time ago – ten years ago we got it right and we are right on track”.

Dr Veron said the $5 million to boost the number of field officers to give early warning of coral bleaching would make no difference.

“NOAA, the big American oceanographic organisation, have the ways and means of predicting bleaching events, and it is a benchmark that is accepted by scientists everywhere. Field officers make absolutely no difference at all.

“The whole thing is a waste of money except helping basic research into ways by which we can help corals adapt.

“The reality is that the Great Barrier Reef will be torn apart over the next ten to fifteen years. It's as serious as that – it's incredibly urgent and it is all due to carbon dioxide, and nothing else.”

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