PM to Announce $60M to Protect Great Barrier Reef

The Prime Minister is unveiling a multi-million dollar plan to save the Great Barrier Reef.

The plan, which is expected to cost around $60 million over 18 months, aims to protect the coral from mass bleaching.

The money includes $10 million for bolstered crown-of-thorn death squads, $5 million for water-quality police, and more than $36 million to help farmers reduce sediment run-off.

An aerial hptograph of the Great Barrier Reef from April 2017 shows bleaching across large swathes of the water. (AAP)

Speaking in a radio interview this morning, Malcolm Turnbull said much of the funding would go towards farmers, whose practices are leading to water pollution.

“The largest single part of the money, nearly $37 million, is going to go into supporting farmers stopping run-off off their properties,” Mr Turnbull said.

“So that all of the fertilisers and nutrients don’t get into the river and therefore into the reef. So improving water quality is a critical part of it.”

This shows the Great Barrier Reef suffering mass bleaching at Vlassoff Cay, near Cairns. (AAP)

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will announce the $60 million plan in Townsville today.

The Prime Minister agreed it was important to work hand-in-hand with farmers – saying without them “we would have nothing to eat”.

The funding will also be used to boost the number of vessels targeting the crown-of-thorns starfish and the number of field officers protecting the reef.

Malcolm Turnbull is visiting the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville today for the official announcement.

A dugong in the reef last year. (AAP)

The Australian Institute of Marine Science’s senior research scientist Dr Line Bay told The Courier Mail that scientists were trying to develop a backup plan for the reef.

“(This includes) accelerating naturally occurring evolutionary processes to enhance certain traits that are important for the health and survival (of coral),” Dr Bay said.

“These approaches range from assisted gene flow and the selective breeding of stress-tolerant coral stock, to active selection and manipulation of microbial symbionts with the aim of enhancing the stress tolerance of the coral animal.”