A new program has been launched to help regenerate the Great Barrier Reef. Picture: Supplied
A new program has been launched to help regenerate the Great Barrier Reef. Picture: Supplied

Bold plan to help save Great Barrier Reef

A new program has been launched to help the Great Barrier Reef regenerate and recover from recent mass bleaching events.

A fast-growing coral nursery will be established off the coast of Queensland's Fitzroy Island which will be tended to by a team of experts throughout 2021 to produce mature coral and place it back on the reef.

The Reef Restoration Foundation has partnered with shipping container company ANL on the Reef Recovery program.

ANL CEO Shane Walden said the coral nursery was just the start of a larger movement to restore coral.

The CMA CGM Group, of which ANL is a subsidiary, will also look into other similar projects around the world, he said.

"We want to act for the planet and dive headfirst into the coral regeneration journey," Mr Walden said.

"With Australian roots, we have a strong association with the Great Barrier Reef. Coral is the lung of the ocean and the condition of underwater life.

"While the reef is under significant environmental pressure, ANL has the opportunity and the capability to help its regeneration and we're very enthusiastic to do so."

Mr Walden explained coral droppings found on the sea floor or clippings will be hung from a frame, resembling multi-level Hills hoists, and will grow over time.

Coral will be tended to in a dedicated nursery off Fitzroy Island then taken back to the Great Barrier Reef once it’s matured. Picture: Stuart Ireland, Calypso Reef Imagery.
Coral will be tended to in a dedicated nursery off Fitzroy Island then taken back to the Great Barrier Reef once it’s matured. Picture: Stuart Ireland, Calypso Reef Imagery.

"They're put in a place where the resources for growth are more abundant, with more sunshine (and) movement in the water.

"Obviously coral wouldn't normally grow there (on Fitzroy Island) because the resources are so abundant so you will get green algae like you would in a new fish tank.

"(Experts) keep tending to them by keeping them clean and bruising that green algae off them so the coral can directly see the sunlight and take up the resources.

"Depending on what the season is like, in around six or eight months they are then big and long enough to have cuttings taken for themselves and taken back into the deeper Great Barrier Reef."

Reef Restoration Foundation CEO Ryan Donnelly said the program adopted a model used in the Caribbean to accelerate coral recovery.

He thanked ANL for investing $145,000 over two years into the project, which he said would also allow the program to expand to other sites.

"There's a sense of urgency around accelerating the natural rate of recovery," Mr Donnelly said.

"We have permits for more nurseries at Hastings Reef and for nine different nurseries at Moore Reef so it's exciting times ahead.

"The money will help will installation and maintenance of the nursery and expansion of the science program.

"We can't do it without corporate sponsorship like ANL's."

Originally published as Bold plan to help save Great Barrier Reef