Col McKenzie (AMPTO), Russell Beer (Ports North) and Warren Entsch (MP for Leichhardt) welcome the increased capability that will come with the Venus II. (Image courtesy RRRC)
THE Coalition Government is stepping up efforts to cull more coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish with a second boat.
The Reef and Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC) in partnership with the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators has been awarded the $5.6 million tender to operate a second crown-of-thorns starfish control vessel in the Marine Park over the next three years.
Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg said reducing the severity and frequency of crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks is part of a wider suite of measures to help improve the health of the Reef.
“Divers culling the crown-of-thorns starfish are the frontline of our efforts to promote recovery,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“Put simply, every adult coral colony we protect is coral that can produce larvae to repopulate other reefs downstream, thereby helping the Reef to regenerate.”
Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch welcomed the news that the RRRC and AMPTO would continue their very effective work tackling COTS.
“Fortunately the Reef is not completely overrun by crown-of-thorns starfish, meaning efforts can be targeted at a 250-kilometre stretch between Cairns and Lizard Island,” Mr Entsch said.
“Since its introduction, the control program has culled more than 400,000 crown-of-thorns starfish on 21 key reefs which are either used by the tourism industry or amplify outbreaks because of prevailing currents.
“Follow-up surveys show the culling has successfully protected coral cover and kept the adult crown-of-thorns starfish population to below outbreak levels in the Cairns region.”
The new control vessel, a key local commitment in the 2016 Federal Election Campaign, will begin operating in January and is being funded through the Coalition Government’s $140 million Reef Trust.