New vessels and boosted capacity for crown-of-thorns starfish control

Published: 17/08/2018

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority can call upon five new crown-of-thorns starfish control suppliers to provide more vessels and trained crews as part of an all-out assault on coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish in the Great Barrier Reef.

Following a competitive AusTender process earlier this year by the Marine Park Authority, the expanded control program will cover larger areas of the Reef, enable quicker response to starfish outbreaks, and collect improved and timely data to best direct crown-of-thorns starfish management efforts.

Marine Park Authority Reef Interventions director Darren Cameron welcomed the program’s expansion.

“We’re now in the process of negotiating work orders with the goal to have additional control vessels on the water in September,” he said.

“This will significantly expand the geographic scope of our control efforts, and we’re also determining the most effective monitoring and control strategies to best protect the Reef and build its resilience.

“The reality is — although we will have more vessels and trained crews than ever before — there are more than 3000 reefs in the Marine Park across 344,400 square kilometres, so we still have to be very strategic about how we responsibly use these resources to deliver an effective control program.

“We are working with our partners and using the latest scientific research from the National Environmental Science Program Tropical Water Quality Hub’s Integrated Pest Management project to determine the most efficient way to use these vessels to protect coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef.

“This involves targeting reefs that offer the highest value ecologically and economically, and then seeking to maximise live coral cover on these priority reefs through culling.”

The Marine Park Authority has signed agreements with the following suppliers, which means they can be engaged to deliver crown-of-thorns starfish control services until 30 September 2020:

  • A Myti Adventure Pty Ltd
  • Blue Planet Marine
  • Pacific Marine Group Pty Ltd
  • Reef and Rainforest Research Centre
  • Ultra Coral Australia Pty Ltd.

In addition to culling the coral-eating starfish, suppliers may also be enlisted to help with coral reef surveillance and provide support for research and development into new tools to enhance starfish control and protect coral cover.

Ramping up crown-of-thorns starfish control in the Marine Park is a key initiative in the Marine Park Authority’s Reef Blueprint: Great Barrier Reef Blueprint for Resilience, which recently helped to inform updates to the Australian and Queensland governments’ Reef 2050 Plan.

The Marine Park Authority’s Crown-of-thorn Starfish Control Program’s expansion has been enabled by funding boosts of $14.4 million from Reef Trust and Reef 2050 in 2017 and $10.4 million from the Australian Government earlier this year.

Name: Marine Park Authority
Contact: (07) 4750 0846

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