News & Media Releases

PNG rangers share skills at forum

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Two rangers from the Building Resilience in the Treaty Villages (BRTV) program in Papua New Guinea’s southern coastal villages have travelled to Australia to share and gain knowledge at a forum for Indigenous rangers. Read more

Good news for our Great Barrier Reef: Encouraging signs of recovery

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There are significant signs of recovery for corals affected by mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. A milder 2017-2018 summer and an alliance between science, industry and government is supporting the recovery of the GBR in many important locations. Read more

RRRC welcomes $500m funding for Great Barrier Reef in budget

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The Reef and Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC), a Cairns-based environmental NGO, has welcomed the announcement of $500 million for Great Barrier Reef protection from the Australian Government in the 2018 Budget. Read more

Crown of Thorns Starfish control program protecting key reefs from coral-eating predator

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Cutting-edge science funded by the Australian government will more than double the effectiveness of a program to protect the Great Barrier Reef from outbreaks of a coral-eating starfish. Read more

RRRC welcomes funding for Reef water-mixing technology as bleaching season approaches

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Preparations for a world-first combination of Queensland’s best science and engineering expertise to defend parts of the Great Barrier Reef from climate change will begin this summer, thanks to $2.2 million in funding from the Australian Department of the Environment and Energy. Read more

‘Hero’ rejoins fight against Reef-eating predator

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A ship dedicated to countering a serious threat to the health of the Great Barrier Reef and the tourism economy it supports will be heading back out to sea after a two-week refit. Read more

Divers graduate after joining the fight against Crown of Thorns Starfish

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The latest class of divers trained to control outbreaks of the coral-eating Crown of Thorns  Starfish will be entering the workforce with an arsenal of specialized skills after graduating at a ceremony in Cairns today. Read more

Sea Swift helps out in PNG humanitarian effort

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Northern Australia shipping company Sea Swift has teamed up with local organisation RRRC Connect to help donate 52 Rescue Swags to help a poverty-stricken region in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Read more

Big boost for Cairns Aquarium with major funding announcement

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The Cairns Aquarium has received a long-awaited funding boost with the announcement of a combined $2 million grant from the Federal Government and the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre. Read more

Federal Government poised for $2m funding pledge for Cairns Aquarium research centre

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THE Cairns Aquarium is in line for about $2 million funding for a research centre that could evolve into a new outpost of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Read more

Campaign to save mothers and babies on Australia’s borderlands

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A Cairns non-government humanitarian organisation is reaching out to the Queensland community to help supply a locally-designed ‘smart first aid kit’ to impoverished communities on Papua New Guinea’s borderlands with Australia. Read more

Crown of Thorns control vessel helps repair Whitsunday reefs after Cyclone Debbie

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A crack team of Cairns tourism-industry divers will be helping put the Whitsunday Islands’ coral reefs back together again in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Debbie. Read more

RRRC gets major boost as managing director Sheriden Morris appointed chair of CRC For Developing Northern Australia

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RRRC’s managing director Sheriden Morris has been appointed the chairperson of the board of directors for the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia, a $75 million body that will assist businesses, governments and researchers to work together to identify opportunities for business and growth in northern Australia.

See the media release below for details:

Joint Media Release – CRC for Northern Australia open for business – 20 Feb 2017

Keeping an eye on Big Wet runoff

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Every year, major rainfalls in Far North Queensland turn the Barron River and other major watercourses a bright shade of ochre as they pick up mud and silt on their way to the ocean – but this year, scientists and farmers are keeping a closer eye on the sediment-filled waters and their effects on the Great Barrier Reef. Read more

Efforts doubled in fight against coral-eating foe

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Marine managers, scientists and the tourism industry will boost efforts to protect the health of the Great Barrier Reef by culling coral eating crown-of-thorns starfish over the next three years. Read more

PNG Treaty Villages Pilot extended

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The Australian Government is strengthening its support for a group of Papua New Guinea villages located less than 5km from Australia’s northernmost point. Read more

Tour Industry’s “Sigh of Relief” at Latest Coral Recovery Findings

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Queensland’s marine tourism industry is breathing a sigh of relief at the latest scientific assessment of coral recovery from the Great Barrier Reef’s worst ever bleaching event. Read more

Community Rangers rebuild Mabuadan Hospital

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Rangers trained under RRRC’s Treaty Village Resilience Program have rebuilt the derelict hospital in Mabuadan Village, PNG, giving new access to healthcare for the community, particularly women.

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Key tourism sites escape worst of coral bleaching: report

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Another survey dive mission on key tourism reefs in the Cairns area have revealed that these reefs have avoided the worst of the damage in the recent mass coral bleaching event.

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Harnessing the market to reduce coastal run-off

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An experiment under the NESP Tropical Water Quality Hub has indicated that a nitrogen trading scheme could be effective in reducing agricultural runoff impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.

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Another honour for the far north

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As the first of David Attenborough’s TV program on the Great Barrier Reef aired last night, an Aboriginal art book by a Cairns artist and author, Munganbana Norman Miller, and Adelaide based RenBro Publishing, is the proud recipient of a Bronze Medal from the internationally prestigious and globally recognized Independent Publisher Book Awards – IPPY Awards 2016. The book’s Bronze Medal has been awarded under the IPPY’s National Category of Multicultural Non-fiction Adult which is for the overall medalists and includes entrants from UK, US, Aus/NZ, and Europe. This is an outstanding achievement for Munganbana as a longstanding artist of note. Read more

Bleaching survey results in for Cairns dive tourism sites

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The first detailed up-close bleaching surveys of reefs in the Cairns-Lizard Island area have been completed, and results show that the key tourism sites off Cairns have escaped the worst of the severe bleaching.

Read more…

What do we do about coral bleaching?

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The northern Great Barrier Reef is experiencing one of the worst mass bleaching events on record. Here’s how researchers and managers are working to help the Reef endure and recover from bleaching and other threats.

Read more…

Long-lasting changes in water clarity in the whole-GBR in response to rivers

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NERP TE Hub Project 4.1

Katharina Fabricius’s paper “Changes in water clarity in response to river discharges on the Great Barrier Reef continental shelf: 2002–2013” is now available online here as open access.

Highlights

  • The 344,000 km2 Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is located on a shallow continental shelf.
  • We show wide-spread, long-lasting losses in GBR water clarity after river floods.
  • Across the GBR, rivers reduce water clarity by 50%, recovery takes ∼6 months.
  • In some regions, rivers affect water clarity even on the outer shelf.
  • Destructive starfish outbreaks originate in regions with greatest river effects.

Abstract

Water clarity is a key factor for the health of marine ecosystems. The Australian Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is located on a continental shelf, with >35 major seasonal rivers discharging into this 344,000 km2, tropical to subtropical ecosystem. This work investigates how river discharges affect water clarity in different zones along and across the GBR. For each day over 11 years (2002–2013) we calculated ‘photic depth’ as a proxy measure of water clarity (calibrated to be equivalent to Secchi depth), for each 1 km2 pixel from MODIS-Aqua remote sensing data. Long-term and seasonal changes in photic depth  were related to the daily discharge volumes of the nearest rivers, after statistically removing the effects of waves and tides on photic depth. The relationships between photic depths and rivers differed across and along the GBR. They typically declined from the coastal to offshore zones, and were strongest in proximity to rivers in agriculturally modified catchments. In most southern inner zones, photic depth declined consistently throughout the 11-year observation period; such long-term trend was not observed offshore nor in the northern regions. Averaged across the GBR, photic depths declined to 47% of local maximum values soon after the onset of river floods, and recovery to 95% of maximum values took on average 6 months (range: 150–260 days). The river effects were strongest at latitude 14.5°–19.0°S, where river loads are high and the continental shelf is narrow. Here, even offshore zones showed a >40% seasonal decline in photic depth, and 17–24% reductions in annual mean photic depth in years with large river nutrients and sediment loads. Our methodology is based on freely available data and tools and may be applied to other shelf systems, providing valuable insights in support of ecosystem management.

Crown of Thorns cull passes 400,000

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New technologies and techniques have allowed control divers to remove 400,000 Crown of Thorns Starfish from the Great Barrier Reef and protect the $7 billion tourism industry dependent on it. Read more

Funny side of tourism focus for FNQ researchers

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THE funny side of tourism will be within the scope of a new research centre dedicated to improving the industry.

CQUniversity officially opened its new Centre for Tourism and Regional Opportunities at its Cairns campus. Read more

Tropical expertise developing communities on Australia’s borderlands

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Severe drought is pushing communities to breaking point on Australi…….a’s borderlands however the tropical expertise of organisations based in Cairns are helping communities in this region develop. Read more

Treaty Village aid program improving lives on Australian-PNG border

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As the 30th Anniversary of the Australian and PNG Torres Strait Treaty is celebrated, an Australian-funded development aid program in Papua New Guinea’s south is producing real results, with compelling human stories emerging from the program. Read more

Workshop helps set guide research on Crown Of Thorns Starfish

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Outbreaks of Crown Of Thorns Starfish (COTS) have been identified as one of top three threats to the health of the Great Barrier Reef and the $5 billion tourism industry it supports. Read more

Rivers of red threaten the future of the reef

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It’s going to take the reinvention of 10,000 farms to improve water quality and repair the Great Barrier Reef, and there’s new evidence that sediment from farms producing Australia’s favourite fruit—bananas—is a growing part of the problem. The bold plan to fix the reef will cost billions but is already facing funding cuts. Gregg Borschmann investigates. Read more

Jellyfish workshop brings together scientists, stakeholders

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The excruciating pain inflicted by a box jellyfish sting can really ruin a swim in the warm waters of tropical far north Queensland and it’s notoriously difficult to predict where swarms of the venomous marine organisms might suddenly appear. Read more

Community Rangers ready to help develop PNG Villages with Australian-funded training

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The original drafting of the Great Barrier Reef Aquaculture Regulations, did what they were meant to do protect the Great Barrier Reef and the biosecurity for the aquaculture industry. As the then-Director for Water Quality at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, it was my job to draft these Regulations. Read more

Give aquaculture a fair go

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The original drafting of the Great Barrier Reef Aquaculture Regulations, did what they were meant to do protect the Great Barrier Reef and the biosecurity for the aquaculture industry. As the then-Director for Water Quality at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, it was my job to draft these Regulations. Read more

Training program boosts employment and protects Reef at the same time

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A federally-funded training program has helped boost youth employment in Cairns and protect the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) simultaneously, with a group of young locals receiving Certificate III’s in Tourism and Occupational Diving and also culling the coral eating Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTS) at the same time. Read more

Healthy reef more important than fishing or shipping: residents and visitors

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The health of the Great Barrier Reef is more important to residents and tourists than its recreational or commercial uses, according to new research. Read more

RRRC welcomes funding to fight coral-eating monster starfish

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The Reef and Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC) is welcoming the announcement of $7 million to control populations of the coraleating Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTS) on the Great Barrier Reef. Read more

Great Barrier Reef showing signs of regrowth and new coral colonies

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QUEENSLAND’S cyclone-battered Great Barrier Reef is showing good signs of regrowth and new coral colonies as the Environment Minister urged tourists to put a visit to the natural wonder on a “bucket list’’.

The largest post-cyclone assessment of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park — a 600km-long stretch of reef — found up to a 9 per cent increase in coral cover in parts. Read more

Crown of thorns starfish appears in pristine parts of Western Australia

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The crown of thorns starfish which has devastated large areas of the Great Barrier Reef has infested areas around the Montebello Islands off the Pilbara coast.

Surveys going back to the mid-1970s have shown the existence of the marine invertebrates in the reefs off the Pilbara coastline. However, the numbers being currently observed are much higher than seen in previous years. Read more

Rainforest search begins near Cairns for yellow crazy ants pest

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A large-scale search for an invasive pest species of ant is underway in dense rainforest in far north Queensland. Read more

Penalties for hunting threatened species tripled

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Illegal poachers of dugongs and turtles in far north Queensland are about to face tougher penalties, as the Federal Government announces new measures to protect threatened species. Read more

Reef-eating crown-of-thorns starfish spurred on by rising sea temperatures

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Rising sea temperatures have been found by scientists to improve the survival rate of the coral-eating crown-of-thorn starfish in findings that are likely to stoke fears about the future of the Great Barrier Reef. Read more

Australian boats help stop the spread of tuberculosis in Papua New Guinea

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Four specially crafted boats are heading from Australia’s north-east coast to Papua New Guinea as part of a program to help stop the spread of tuberculosis in the country. Read more

New weapon headed to PNG in the war against Tuberculosis

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FOUR specially crafted boats are Papua New Guinea-bound to bolster a Federal Government bid to tackle a tuberculosis epidemic before it crosses borders and wreaks havoc on the Far North. Read more

Millions to be invested into tropical water quality research

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THE Australian Government is investing more than $31 million over six years for research into tropical water quality through the National Environmental Science Programme. Read more

Water quality research welcomed

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WHITSUNDAY tourism operators have welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of more than $31 million over six years for research into tropical water quality through the National Environmental Science Program. Read more

New National Environmental Research Program to be based in Cairns

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THE Australian Government is investing more than $31 million over six years for research into tropical water quality through the National Environmental Science Programme. Read more

Government invests $31 million in Reef research

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THE Australian Government is investing more than $31 million over six years for research into tropical water quality through the National Environmental Science Programme. Read more

Seychelles Must Control Crown-of-Thorns Starfish Outbreak Before Coral Reefs Are Decimated, Says Expert

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Beau-Vallon — Increasing levels of human development in Seychelles coupled with rising sea temperatures have caused an outbreak of venomous starfish that feed on delicate coral reefs, and unless concerted action is taken soon, a large number of reefs within the inner granitic islands of the archipelago could be entirely lost. Read more

Daintree Rainforest Observatory opens

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A new world-class research centre and observatory focusing on the Daintree Rainforest has been opened today.

The Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch said the Daintree Rainforest Observatory was built with $9.7 million from the Australian Government and that it will build on the work already done by James Cook University’s (JCU) Australian Canopy Crane Research Station. Read more

Amazing photos of Australia’s epic Great Barrier Reef

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More than 100,000 beautiful images of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef have been released to the public.

The photos include species living on the reef, 360 degree panoramas and map the reef from 32 different locations. Read more

Climate change leadership needed to preserve Great Barrier Reef

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A decision by G20 leaders to discuss climate change at their meeting in Brisbane this week is good news for the Great Barrier Reef, researchers say.

The University of Queensland’s Dr Juan Ortiz, lead author on a study of the reef released today, said the research was the most detailed to date and the first to show definitively that the reef could be preserved if emissions were reduced, with visible benefits within 20 years. Read more

Better safe than sorry: Scientist backs divers’ two-spikes rule

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A LEADING scientist has backed dive operators’ tough “two spikes and you’re out” rule when dealing with crown of thorns starfish, saying it is better to be safe than sorry.

The Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators has introduced a new policy for its divers trying to eliminate the coral-devouring creatures from the Great Barrier Reef. Read more

NERP TE Hub Conference 2014

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Don’t forget that the NERP TE Hub Conference is to be held on the 5th-7th November 2014 at the Pullman Reef Hotel Casino, Cairns. Click here for more details.

Cairns divers told two spikes and you’re out in quest to stop crown-of-thorns starfish

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DIVERS trying to eliminate crown-of-thorns starfish from the Great Barrier Reef will be sacked if they get twice stung by the animals’ venomous spines.

The Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators has implemented the tough new “two spikes and you’re out” policy after workplace, health and safety concerns about the venomous creatures. Read more

James Cook University scientists find small reef shark may cope with effects of climate change

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REEF fish stocks may face less predatory pressure after scientists found a small species of shark doesn’t have to eat more to cope with the carbon dioxide levels predicted for the end of the century. Read more

Study aims to solve Queensland turtle deaths mystery

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Researchers are trying to solve the mystery of what caused the mass strandings and deaths of green turtles in Queensland’s far north two years ago

They are tagging hundreds of turtles along the Great Barrier Reef as part of a project to try and prevent more deaths. Read more

Biosecurity officer on Boigu Island, Torres Strait protects Australia’s agriculture

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Checking insect traps, collecting scientific data and processing international arrivals to ensure they’re not carrying pests or disease that would threaten Australia’s agricultural, is all in a day’s work for Gadu Banu. Read more

Doctor confirms first fatal drug resistant TB infection

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Tests have confirmed the first Australian transmission of a virulent form of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

Two weeks ago a Torres Strait islander woman died in Cairns from a mutant strain that originates across the border from Papua New Guinea. Read more

Sheriden Morris at the forefront of efforts to manage human impacts on the Great Barrier Reef

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SHERIDEN Morris has been at the forefront of efforts to manage human impacts on the Great Barrier Reef for nearly 30 years.

When a Far Northern ­inshore reef system began to collapse, she worked with farmers on improving their practices and reducing run-off into reef catchments. Read more

Illegal traders of dugong, turtle meat targeted with $5m poaching crackdown

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The Federal Government is warning anyone involved in the illegal trade of dugong and turtle meat that they will be caught.

The Government has allocated $5 million to a dugong and turtle protection plan that involves the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Customs and Border Protection, and the Australian Crime Commission. Read more

Fresh wave of coral killing starfish found in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

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THE body heading the fight against the coral-devouring crown of thorns starfish has warned funding for the control program must continue if the battle is to be won.

Divers have found starfish smaller than a 5¢ coin in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which indicates another wave of COTS is ready to invade. Read more

10-year study shows Great Barrier Reef no-fishing zones boost shark numbers

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A 10-YEAR study that involved thousands of underwater camera drops has found no-fishing zones are boosting shark numbers on the Great Barrier Reef. Read more

New pilot program to address development issues in PNG’s Western Province

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ABC Radio Australia’s Catherine Graue interviews Sheriden Morris to talk about the new pilot program in PNG’s Western Province.

Click here to listen to the interview.

New partnership to support communities in PNG

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The Australian Government will provide $1.85 million to a two-year pilot program promoting economic and community development and disease prevention in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province.

The program is the product of a new partnership between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Cairns-based Reef and Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC).

Read the full media release here.

National Threatened Species Day

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Sunday the 7th of September is National Threatened Species Day. Events are been held all over Australia, click here to have a look what’s going on in Queensland.

Prickly prediction issue plagues Great Barrier Reef

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Predicting the patterns of crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks is the focus of a University of Queensland study that could be vital to protecting the Great Barrier Reef. Read more

Senate report says Gladstone Harbour an ‘environmental disaster’

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DREDGING and dumping of spoil on the Great Barrier Reef faces a cap or ban after a decision hailed as a victory in the fight to protect our iconic underwater jewel.

The long-awaited Senate Reef report tabled last night recommended a halt to dumping amid deep concerns about the rapidly declining health of the 2300km-long reef off Queensland’s coast. Read more

Urbanisation joins mining and farming as threat to Great Barrier Reef

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THE battered Great Barrier Reef may yet face its most damaging issue — urban pollution from millions of people.

It is forecast that urban pollution from runaway coastal population growth will explode as people move into the area, potentially doing more damage than much-maligned farming. Read more

Two-way Route in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait

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The IMO-adopted ship routeing measure to enhance the safety and efficiency of navigation and protect the region’s sensitive marine environment will come into effect at 0000 UTC on 1st December 2014. Read more

New weapons, strategies in war against Crown of Thorns

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New efforts are underway to combat infestations of Crown of Thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef with the development of lethal bile injectors and integrated pest management plans. Read more