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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

28 November 2005

Plan to dethrone crown-of-thorns marine pest


A war is to be waged on the devastating crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said today.

Senator Campbell said new funding of $600,000 from the Natural Heritage Trust was part of an ongoing effort to help combat the crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks at key tourism areas of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators has signed a new two-year contract to manage the crown-of-thorns starfish control programme.

“The programme focuses on protecting tourism sites and will operate at locations where the tourism operators have active measures to control the crown-of-thorns starfish in place themselves,” Senator Campbell said.

“Tourism is one of our most valuable industries and on the Great Barrier Reef it contributes $5.1 billion to the Australian economy.

“When managed properly, tourism has a very low impact on the Reef and can help to educate people about this unique world treasure.

“This programme directly assists Marine Park tourism operators to provide protection of the Great Barrier Reef at key tourism sites and allows them to continue to provide high quality attractions.”

The Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators has managed the programme in the past.

The team has conducted control efforts at more than 169 sites on more than 57 reefs, ranging from inner to outer edge reefs from north of Port Douglas to offshore Townsville and the Whitsundays.

Col McKenzie, Executive Director of the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators Limited, welcomed the extra funding.

“The presence of high numbers of crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef is an extraordinary phenomenon with potentially catastrophic consequences. This programme will help minimise problems,” he said. Studies of crown-of-thorns starfish show that during a severe outbreak, they can eat so much that they can kill significant amounts of living coral.

Senator Campbell said this was another example of the Howard Government’s commitment to working with industry in practical ways that help protect the environment.

Photographs: related images are available from the photo gallery

Media contact:
Renae Stoikos 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

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