Statement: Board and crown-of-thorns starfish control

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority takes the information published in today’s media very seriously and we are looking into these allegations of perceived conflict of interest.

The Marine Park Authority board does not have delegated legislative power to make any decisions relating to the procurement or funding of the crown-of-thorns starfish control program.

In 2017 the Australian Government commissioned an independent review of the Marine Park Authority’s governance. The Government agreed with the 24 resulting recommendations.

The Authority supports the outcomes of this governance review and is implementing these recommendations.

The new arrangements take effect on proclamation of the Great Barrier Reef Amendment (Authority Governance and Other Matters) Act 2018 which received Royal Assent on 5 March 2018.

The new laws relating to the board are included in Schedule 1 of the Amendment Act. They have not yet taken effect.

Schedule 1 will commence on the earlier of, a date to be fixed by proclamation, or on 6 March 2019 (12 months after Royal Assent).

The Authority engaged an independent probity advisor to undertake a review of existing Marine Park Authority board members following the new arrangements coming into effect.

The Authority is providing information to all board members about their obligations under the new governance arrangements.

Control of crown-of-thorns starfish remains a key initiative in the Marine Park Authority’s Great Barrier Reef Blueprint for Resilience, which recently helped to inform updates to the Australian and Queensland governments’ Reef 2050 plan.

The Authority has full confidence in the effectiveness of the crown-of-thorns starfish control program and monitoring indicates that it has been successful in maintaining coral cover on high value tourism and ecologically important reefs.

Our crown-of-thorns starfish control program, as with all our management activities, is informed by the best-available science.  Since 2015 we’ve adopted a holistic and integrated pest management approach which includes surveillance, targeted culling and research.