Written by Georgia Indian,

produced for online by Holly Parkinson.

Climate Change threatens the Great Barrier Reef, Source: Flickr – Lock the Gate Alliance

The Federal Government plans to roll out a $500 million package to help save the Great Barrier Reef, but marine experts say the money is not being spent on facing the real threat; Climate Change.

In the past two years, the Great Barrier Reef has experienced the worst mass coral bleaching and mortality ever, spanning across 350,000 square kilometres.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority says the effects of worsening climate change, specifically severe tropical cyclones and above average sea surface temperatures, are accountable for the loss of more than 30 per cent of all shallow water coral.

Despite these figures, no money has been allocated to combat these climate change impacts.

Instead, a $58 million focus has been put on the management of the Crown of Thorns Starfish, which marine biologists say is eating its way through the coral reef at a quickening rate.

The Government says plans to tackle the venomous species will involve a single lethal injection of a substance into the starfish, which will break it down over a 48 hour period.

Crown of Thorns starfish are the target of plans to help the reef. Source: Flickr – Kevin Lavorgna

Crown of Thorns Starfish robot (COTSbot) co-creator Dr Feras Dayoub is making history in the fight against the Crown of Thorns Starfish.

The first of its kind in the world, the autonomous underwater robotic vehicle is proven to control marine pests.

After successful field trials for the robot, Dr. Dayoub and his team are very happy with the COTSbot’s computer vision and detection rate.

Despite being the first underwater robot ever to be built with an injection system, Dr Dayoub says the additional design is paramount to its efficiency.

“The current injection mechanism can inject 200 starfish,” says Dr Dayoub, who is also a Research Fellow with the Australian Centre for Robotics Vision at QUT.

Though the extra funding towards controlling the Crown of Thorns Starfish is welcomed, marine expert and Great Barrier Reef Community Campaigner David Cazzulino says the reason for such an outbreak of this species is due to a lack of climate change control.

“We know that the Crown of Thorns starfish plagues are exacerbated by warmer waters and more nutrients in water” Mr Cazzulino says.

“They’re the kind of top two issues facing the reef – climate change and water quality – to increase the numbers of coral-eating Crown of Thorn Starfish.”

Mr Cazzulino says without extensive changes to current environmental policies and regulations, efforts to save the Great Barrier Reef will be lost.

“Without any credible policy to deal with climate change this is basically a waste,” he says.

“Some of the solutions to climate change don’t cost a lot.

“It means stopping new coal mines, including Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, it means saying no to new gas projects in the Northern Territory and elsewhere and it means putting the policy frameworks in place to encourage investments… [that are] already starting to make headway across the country that’s allowing people to source their energy from clean, renewable sources like the sun and the wind.”

The full Government package for The Great Barrier Reef will be handed down next Tuesday as part of the federal budget.