Crown-of-thorns cull completed
The Federal Government has announced over 60,000 crown-of-thorns starfish have been culled under a project to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
Federal Environment Minister said divers from the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators have culled the coral eating starfish between Lizard Island and Cairs, as well as pockets in the Whitsunday.
The $1.43 million project began in August last year as a response to increased crown-of-thorn starfish sightings.
“Research shows the crown-of-thorns starfish is one of the main culprits behind a serious decline in coral cover,” Mr Burke said.
“These starfish occur naturally, but pollution and run off can lead to an explosion in their numbers. And when their numbers get out of hand week after week we witness them eating the reef.
“Long term the work of reef rescue is ensuring that run off and pollution into the reef reduces every years. But short term we need to have divers underwater injecting them and killing them.
“The Australian Institute of Marine Science published long-term data last year demonstrating coral cover on the Reef has declined by more than 50 per cent over the past 27 years — with outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish being a major contributor, just behind cyclones”
To cull crown-of-thorns starfish, divers inject the animal with sodium bisulphate — a biodegradable chemical considered harmless to other plants and animals on the Reef.