Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

More support to fight crown of thorns starfish

Media release
1 February 2013

The Gillard Government will provide a boost to the Great Barrier Reef, with increased funding to fight the crown-of-thorns starfish.

Environment Minister Tony Burke said an additional $800,000 will be provided this financial year, building on the $1.43 million announced last year.

"The Gillard Government is absolutely committed to protection to the Great Barrier Reef as a top priority," Mr Burke said.

"The coral eating crown-of-thorns starfish, which can reach almost one metre in diameter when fully grown and destroy coral faster than it can regenerate, are recognised as a significant threat to the reef.

"Of this funding, $700,000 will put a second boat on the water to remove crown-of-thorns starfish on high-value tourism reefs identified as being under threat.

"This will help restore the diversity and resilience of these areas, and support local communities that rely on the reef for their livelihoods."

Last year the Gillard Government provided $1.43 million to the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators, which has a strong track record of engaging its members to control crown-of-thorns starfish.

"Under the first round of funding, tourism operations have removed more than 37,500 crown-of-thorn starfish from tourism hotspots around Cairns, Port Douglas and the Whitsundays, restoring the ecological balance and strengthening the resilience of the target areas," Mr Burke said.

"This partnership with tourism operators continues and has proved highly successful and demonstrated the effectiveness of government working with the community to take direct action to control crown-of-thorns starfish.

"Today's announcement will ensure the important work of direct action to control crown-of-thorns starfish continues to deliver immediate benefits to the reef and the communities whose livelihoods are dependent on a healthy and resilient reef.

"The Government is also committed to finding innovative, longer-term solutions and will provide $100,000 to the Australian Institute of Marine Science to undertake studies into the control of crown-of-thorns starfish by single injection.

"Control of crown-of-thorn starfish by single injection is a promising technique that would be much faster and more efficient that the current practice of administering multiple injections to each starfish.

This continued support for tourism operators to defend our tourism hotspots by killing off crown-of-thorns starfish is one of the many ways the Gillard Government is delivering against the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee to improve the resilience of this unique World Heritage Area.