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MEDIA RELEASE February 28, 2017
Great Barrier Reef coral nursery to expand
The Great Barrier Reef’s first offshore nursery to grow corals that have survived recent bleaching events will be replicated in multiple high-value reef areas with funding announced today by the National Australia Bank Foundation.
The Reef Restoration Foundation established a pilot offshore coral nursery at Fitzroy Island in December 2017 after receiving a permit from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).
Foundation Chief Executive Officer Stewart Christie said the not-for-profit social enterprise would expand the pilot nursery at Fitzroy Island and apply for permits to develop more nurseries in other Great Barrier Reef locations with the National Australia Bank $400,000 three-year grant.
“We are very grateful to the National Australia Bank for endorsing the Reef Restoration Foundation’s pilot research program after a very competitive funding application process,” he said.
“We want to congratulate Terrain NRM who, in partnership with GreenCollar, secured $325,000 funding over two years to support farmers access an Australia-first reef offsets scheme
“This funding is a tick of approval from a corporate giant who shares our vision, values and passion to make a difference to the Great Barrier Reef, which is facing many challenges including the recent 2016 and 2017 bleaching events and a cyclone.
“The method adopted by the Reef Restoration Foundation was developed in Florida Keys and the Caribbean where more than 25,000 corals are grown and planted annually in offshore nurseries.
“Our goal is to grow and plant similar amounts of coral in high-value locations throughout the Great Barrier Reef to assist in securing the $6 billion in revenue that supports 69,000 jobs on the world’s largest reef.
“Cuttings of coral have been growing successfully on six coral tree frames at Fitzroy Island since they were installed in December and will be harvested in six to 12 months.
“The cuttings will be transplanted on damaged reefs at the island and the original corals will be left on the frames to regrow so the process becomes a continuous cycle.
“Researchers from James Cook University’s TropWATER and Reef Ecologic are monitoring the performance of the Fitzroy Island coral nursery with the support of funding from the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program.
“The initial pilot project has been established with financial assistance from Fitzroy Island Resort, the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators (AMPTO), Gem Pearl and Cairns Dive Centre.
“We could not have undertaken this project without the support of our army of local volunteers coordinated by Azri Saparwan and Pablo Cogollos and supported by the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.
“Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef is promoting the project as an example of tangible action that brings the community, tourism industry and corporate sector together to assist the Great Barrier Reef.
“The Reef Restoration Foundation’s next step is to install 14 more coral trees across two sites at Fitzroy Island which we will begin after the wet season.
“We will also work with GBRMPA and the tourism industry to identify more high-value reef sites where additional nurseries can be established.
“Coral reefs can take four to 10 years to regenerate naturally, but if we can replicate that process in nurseries across the Great Barrier Reef we can increase the speed of the regeneration process.
“The Reef Restoration Foundation is seeking additional corporate partners to assist in our goal to continue expanding the number of offshore coral nurseries in high value locations throughout the Great Barrier Reef.”
Follow Reef Restoration Foundation on its journey at https://www.facebook.com/reefrestorationfoundation/ and if you are inspired to make a positive improvement to the health of the Great Barrier Reef, please sign-up or donate at www.reefrestorationfoundation.org.
For more information contact:
Reef Restoration Foundation Chief Executive Officer Stewart Christie
T +61 (0) 427 147 556