WWF-Australia today welcomed the first Reef policy of the 2015 election campaign with the ALP announcing it aims to cut farm chemical pollution by up to 80% within a decade.
The ALP policy includes $100 million in new funding, the establishment of a Task Force, the investigation of a water quality trading scheme, support for Best Management Practice, and smart regulations.
WWF CEO Dermot O’Gorman said: “WWF believes this mix of measures is a good approach to one of the greatest threats facing the Reef.
“But the Reef needs much bigger funding commitments from both sides of politics, and all parties need to step up actions to save the Reef.
“Farm fertiliser pollution fuels increased outbreaks of Crown of Thorns Starfish which spread along the Reef devouring coral.
“If there had been no starfish outbreaks since 1985 scientists estimate there would be almost three times the coral we have now.
“We need new ways to tackle this problem and trading schemes reward innovation. Our Reef needs that now more than ever.
“Innovation can boost profit from the precise application of expensive chemicals – where less waste leads to less Reef pollution.
“Using the right mix of investment, water quality trading and – where needed – regulation, the Government can get real results.
“WWF supports exemption of farms with accredited industry led Best Management Practice from regulation, as long as these practices continue to improve over time.
“It will be crucial that the Task Force has clear Terms of Reference and that it represents all players – farmers, tourism operators, environmentalists, scientists, and government and community representatives.
“Together we can find the best pathway to protecting the Reef and supporting viable rural and regional communities.
“WWF calls on all parties at both levels of government to make bold funding commitments to save the Reef before it’s too late,” he said.
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