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Bank funding grows Great Barrier Reef coral nursery

March 1, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

One of Australia’s big banks stepped in yesterday to fund a promising Great Barrier Reef coral project, providing finance to let the first offshore nursery to grow corals that have survived recent bleaching events replicate its work in numerous high-value reef areas.

The Reef Restoration Foundation established a pilot offshore coral nursery at Fitzroy Island in December 2017 after receiving a permit from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).

Foundation chief executive, Stewart Christie, said the not-for-profit social enterprise would expand the pilot nursery at Fitzroy Island and apply for permits to develop more nurseries in other Great Barrier Reef locations with the AUD 400,000 three-year grant from National Australia Bank.

“We are very grateful to the National Australia Bank for endorsing the Reef Restoration Foundation’s pilot research program after a very competitive funding application process,” Christie said.

Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre lends support

“We want to congratulate Terrain NRM who, in partnership with GreenCollar, secured AUD 325,000 funding over two years to support farmers access an Australia-first reef offsets scheme.

“This funding is a tick of approval from a corporate giant who shares our vision, values and passion to make a difference to the Great Barrier Reef, which is facing many challenges including the recent 2016 and 2017 bleaching events and a cyclone.

“The method adopted by the Reef Restoration Foundation was developed in Florida Keys and the Caribbean where more than 25,000 corals are grown and planted annually in offshore nurseries.

“Our goal is to grow and plant similar amounts of coral in high-value locations throughout the Great Barrier Reef to assist in securing the AUD 6 billion in revenue that supports 69,000 jobs on the world’s largest reef.

“Cuttings of coral have been growing successfully on six coral tree frames at Fitzroy Island since they were installed in December and will be harvested in six to 12 months.

“The cuttings will be transplanted on damaged reefs at the island and the original corals will be left on the frames to regrow so the process becomes a continuous cycle.

“Researchers from James Cook University’s TropWATER and Reef Ecologic are monitoring the performance of the Fitzroy Island coral nursery with the support of funding from the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program.

“The initial pilot project has been established with financial assistance from Fitzroy Island Resort, the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators (AMPTO), Gem Pearl and Cairns Dive Centre.

“We could not have undertaken this project without the support of our army of local volunteers coordinated by Azri Saparwan and Pablo Cogollos and supported by the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.

RRF volunteer monitoring coral tree

“Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef is promoting the project as an example of tangible action that brings the community, tourism industry and corporate sector together to assist the Great Barrier Reef. 

“The Reef Restoration Foundation’s next step is to install 14 more coral trees across two sites at Fitzroy Island which we will begin after the wet season.

“We will also work with GBRMPA and the tourism industry to identify more high-value reef sites where additional nurseries can be established.

“Coral reefs can take four to 10 years to regenerate naturally, but if we can replicate that process in nurseries across the Great Barrier Reef we can increase the speed of the regeneration process.

“The Reef Restoration Foundation is seeking additional corporate partners to assist in our goal to continue expanding the number of offshore coral nurseries in high value locations throughout the Great Barrier Reef.”

Those in the travel and tourism industry interested in the project are invited to follow Reef Restoration Foundation on its journey at https://www.facebook.com/reefrestorationfoundation/ and if you are inspired to make a positive improvement to the health of the Great Barrier Reef, please sign-up or donate at www.reefrestorationfoundation.org.

Edited by Peter Needham

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