The Hon. Greg Hunt MP

Minister for the Environment

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP

Minister for the Environment

The Hon. Warren Entsch

MP Federal Member for Leichhardt

250,000 crown-of-thorns starfish culled

Media release
22 April 2014

250,000 crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) have now been culled on the Great Barrier Reef due to a new control measure and additional vessel to combat the pest.

“Funding for a second control vessel, Venus 2, and the development of a single injection method developed by James Cook University has immediately improved the efficiency and effectiveness of reducing COTS numbers on the Great Barrier Reef,” Minister Hunt said.

“The Crown-of-Thorns Eradication Plan is a key element of the Government’s Reef 2050 Plan.”

“In recent decades COTS have been responsible for 42 per cent of coral loss on the Great Barrier Reef.”

“Pollution and run-off entering the reef has lead to an explosion in numbers causing considerable damage to the Reef.”

“The new method involves a small single injection that produces an allergic reaction in the starfish, causing it to break apart and die within 24 hours.  The previous method involved injecting some COTS more than 20 times.  The single injection method is harmless to other marine plants and animals.”

Mr Entsch welcomed the success of the new method.

“The new culling method has led to a four-fold increase in eradicating COTS,” Mr Entsch said.

“Divers deployed by the local Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators here in Cairns are finding they can cull over 1000 crown-of-thorns starfish on a 40-minute dive.”

“This includes 27 000 in just eight days at Arlington Reef and 9000 at Batt Reef, as well as 14 000 at Spitfire Reef near Cooktown.”

Other measures under the Reef 2050 Plan over the longer term will see improvements to water quality entering the Reef, further limiting the COTS thriving in its larval stage on water-borne algae which results from nutrient-rich waters.

The protection and management of the Great Barrier Reef is a priority for the Government and Australians can be proud of our achievements to date in protecting this icon.

Greg Hunt



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