An adult crown of thorns starfish can eat a dinner plate sized area of coral every day.
An adult crown of thorns starfish can eat a dinner plate sized area of coral every day. Jon Hanson

Funding to help control crown of thorns starfish at Reef

THE lion's share of $5 million for the protection of the Great Barrier Reef will go to a new boat and crew to cull infestations of the crown of thorns starfish.

Environment Minister Mark Butler said the funding, part of the Caring for our Country program, would help control the coral-eating starfish.

He said the starfish - one of the most significant threats to reef health - was experiencing an "explosion in their numbers" due to pollution and nutrient run-off.

"Long term, the work of Reef Rescue is ensuring that run-off to the reef is reduced each year through supporting farmers to improve their practices," he said.

"But short term, we need to have divers injecting the starfish and eradicating them."

Of the $5 million, $4 million will support the dedicate boat and crew, run by the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators, to keep culling for the next two years.

The extra $1 million would fund scientific research on the starfish through the Australian Institute of Marine Science and James Cook University.



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