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JTB sponsors Great Barrier Reef coral nursery

April 30, 2018 Responsible Tourism No Comments Email Email

The Great Barrier Reef’s first offshore nursery at Fitzroy Island has received a funding boost from Japan’s largest travel agency JTB.

Reef Restoration Foundation Chief Executive Officer Stewart Christie said JTB contributed $20,000 towards the project which aims to accelerate the recovery of damaged high-value reefs.

“Our not-for-profit social enterprise is excited to receive support from a company with an international reputation as a leader in the tourism sector so soon after the recent support provided by the National Australia Bank Foundation,” he said.

JTB Australia Managing Director Masaya Kasahara said JTB understood the value of the Great Barrier Reef to Australia and the world.

“We want to be involved in taking positive action to protect this amazing asset for current and future generations and look forward to growing this partnership with Reef Restoration Foundation to benefit the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.

Mr Christie said it was a great honour to meet JTB President and CEO Hiroyuki Takahashi

and Mr Kasahara who signed the partnership agreement in front of Tourism and Events Queensland CEO Leanne Coddington, Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Pip Close and Gold Coast Tourism Chairman Paul Donovan.

Ms Close said JTB’s contribution demonstrated the high value the company placed on the natural assets their customers enjoyed.

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

Mr Stewart said corals that survived recent bleaching events are grown on frames at the Fitzroy Island nursery to provide cuttings which can be transplanted on damaged reefs to accelerate their regeneration and strengthen resilience to future bleaching events.

“The method adopted by the Reef Restoration Foundation was developed in Florida Keys and the Caribbean where approximately 75,000 corals are grown and planted annually in offshore nurseries,” he said. 

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

“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 seed funding 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 and the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.

“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 over the next couple of months.

“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.”

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.

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