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Globally Significant Moment for Ocean Conservation

The Australian and Queensland governments have introduced a more than $160 million package to phase out the commercial gill net fishing that damages the Great Barrier Reef.

Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Area. It comprises more than 900 islands and 2,900 individual reefs, and is home to 400 types of coral, 4,000 species of mollusc and 1,500 types of fish, according to UNESCO.

“This announcement is shaping up as a globally significant moment for ocean conservation, fisheries management and the Great Barrier Reef - one of the natural wonders of the world,” said Dermot O’Gorman, CEO of WWF-Australia. “If all goes to plan, by June 2027 we’ll have a Net-Free Reef where dugongs, turtles, dolphins and other threatened species can swim without the threat of becoming entangled and drowning in a gill net, and that’s a cause for global celebration.”

The government package will provide the funds for a gill net licenses buyout and mandate independent data validation for commercial fishing boats.

“The commitment to mandate the use of independent data validation on commercial fishing vessels is also welcome and long overdue. It means we’ll have a much better understanding of what’s happening out on the water, including how many threatened species are being accidentally caught,” said Richard Leck, WWF-Australia’s Head of Oceans.


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