Joint media release: $5 million boost for tourism operators protecting the Reef

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water
Senator Nita Green, Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Senator for Queensland

The Albanese Labor Government is today announcing $5 million to ensure Reef tourism operators can continue to help protect the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

The Tourism Reef Protection Initiative has delivered a significant uplift to Reef health monitoring capacity, conservation and protection activities across the Reef.

Tourism operators are among the most frequent visitors to the Reef. This initiative will allow successful operators to deliver reef monitoring and protection services, including: 

  • Eye on the Reef surveys
  • Crown of thorns starfish control
  • Drupella snail removal
  • Assisted recovery and site-intervention activities such as coral planting. 

Since 2021, participating tourism operators have monitored and cared for 109 high-value reefs, conducted over 15,000 Reef Health surveys, and removed 1,700 crown-of-thorns starfish and 215,000 Drupella snails.

The program was due to end in June 2024. This funding secures its continuation for another 12 months. Tourism operators will be invited to apply through a tender process to undertake targeted stewardship and education activities including site monitoring, controlling coral predators and undertaking site intervention actions.

The extension of the initiative is part of the Australian Government’s commitment to help better protect more of our natural world through a record $1.2 billion investment in the Great Barrier Reef.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek:

We are really happy to be partnering with tourism operators, who don’t just create jobs for Queenslanders but also help us care better for our environment.

“We are investing in the Reef’s resilience and restoration, and using the latest science to care for the reef, respond to the impacts of climate change and provide valuable knowledge of Reef health over time.

“Together with the Reef Authority, the Queensland Government, industries and local communities, we are working to improve the health of the Reef for generations to come.”

Quotes attributable to Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Senator Nita Green: 

“This has been a challenging summer for the Reef. It is important this program continues during this crucial time for monitoring the Reef and building its resilience.

“Tourism operators are an extra set of eyes on the Reef. They’re in the water every day, so are really well placed to play this important monitoring and protection role.  

“There have been excellent results out of the program to date, so I am pleased that work will continue across the Marine Park, which is particularly important following our summer period in which coral reefs have experienced heat stress."