News

Wright moves to pick out the thorn in the reef's crown

Ron Wright has a plan to save The Great Barrier Reef. Photo: John Gass / Daily News
Ron Wright has a plan to save The Great Barrier Reef. Photo: John Gass / Daily News John Gass

THE Great Barrier Reef may be a gem in Australia's crown and one of the world's natural wonders.

But in the light of a discovery by marine scientists that coral cover in the reef has halved in 27 years as a result of the combined effects of coral bleaching, damage caused by storms and crown-of-thorns starfish, a local man has decided to take up arms against the thorn in the crown.

Ron Wright of Bilinga is trying to raise awareness on this serious issue that threatens top destroy the reef.

He has contacted TV and ministers with a plan of attack that includes culling the destructive crown of thorns starfish.

"Like ticks on a cow, we need to pick them off the reef," he said.

"Getting the public involved by giving them $1 a head would not only address the problem, but create employment and environmental awareness."

The justice of the peace has spent the last 20 years travelling the world.

"I have just come back from visiting The Grand Canyon," he said.

"It's one of the wonders of the world, yet our wonder is half dead."

"Nothing is being done.

"It's shocking."

Mr Wright said he had contacted the TV program 60 Minutes to no avail.

"I blame politicians for not taking action sooner and not taking action now," he said.

"They blame fertilisers entering the sea in run-off from farms.

"While that may promote their growth, what they don't say is that the crown of thorns was already there before the fertilisers."

Queensland environment minister Andrew Powell said recently that the Newman government was committed to taking on the crown of thorns starfish, admitting it was one of the biggest threats to the Great Barrier Reef.

Mr Powell's comments followed an investigation into the future of the reef by scientists at Townsville's Australian Institute of Marine Science.

The investigation revealed half of the World Heritage-listed reef's coral had been wiped out in the last 27 years, with tropical cyclones accounting for 24 per cent of the damage and crown of thorn starfish responsible for 21 per cent of the damage.

Dr Hugh Sweatman from the institute said the crown of thorns starfish accounted for 42% of the damage to the reef, with cyclones being 48% and the remaining 10% due to bleaching.

He said divers had been employed through a combined Qld and federal government initiative to poison the starfish.

"These are mainly in tourism sites," he said.

"It's a very laborious task."

Dr Sweatman said the reef had the capacity to recover, but it "needed a break."

"The female crown of thorns produces around 50 million eggs a year," he said.

He said the concept of putting a bounty on the species as suggested by Mr Wright posed problems.

"Firstly, they are poisonous and can induce anaphylactic shock which can result in death," he said.

Dr Sweatman said if the public was let loose on the reef, their enthusiasm may do more harm than good.

Where money is involved, the process could be abused.

Dr Sweatman said the culling process could be turned into farming.

Topics:  reef, starfish


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Community alliance urge action on coastal plan

The proposed rock works under the Coastal Zone Management Plan. Image submitted by Community Alliance for Byron Shire.

Alliance urges residents to attend today's council meeting

Council meeting may be final word on coastal plan

BELONGIL STEPS: Photo taken on June 5 of the steps at Belongil Beach.

Byron Council meeting to discuss Coastal Zone Management Plan

Donations make the day

WHALES: Donation Day for the Byron Bay Winter Whales.

Byron bay Winter Whales donation day took place on the weekend.

Latest deals and offers

Surfers ‘stonewalled’ over concerns about shark barrier

"THEYare looking at preventing attacks ... yet they are still happy to put in a barrier which is going to be a direct threat to people and people’s safety."

Community alliance urge action on coastal plan

The proposed rock works under the Coastal Zone Management Plan. Image submitted by Community Alliance for Byron Shire.

Alliance urges residents to attend today's council meeting

Council meeting may be final word on coastal plan

BELONGIL STEPS: Photo taken on June 5 of the steps at Belongil Beach.

Byron Council meeting to discuss Coastal Zone Management Plan

Donations make the day

WHALES: Donation Day for the Byron Bay Winter Whales.

Byron bay Winter Whales donation day took place on the weekend.

Byron High band wins gold

ON STAGE: Byron Bay High School’s new band in action.

BYRON High's band rocked the Mbah Festival of the Performing Arts

Mono lines up for second World Title

WAVE OF SUCCESS: Another day at the office for Mark 'Mono' Stewart

Byron Bay surfer wins inaugura adaptive surf competition

Snow on the big screen in Byron

A still from Warren Miller's Chasing Shadows

Screening of Warren Miller’s latest ski and snowboard film today

Dash Cam of Slip in Snow

Even light snow can be hazardous.

Dash cam shows how easy it is to lose control in even light snow.

Chaos outside Istanbul Airport

Turkish police block the road after an suicide bomb attack at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, 28 June 2016. At least 10 people were killed in two separate explosions that hit Ataturk Airport.

Distress as cars escape Istanbul airport after bombing.

Panic inside Istanbul Airport

Turkish police block the road after an suicide bomb attack at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, 28 June 2016. At least 10 people were killed in two separate explosions that hit Ataturk Airport.

Dramatic vision from inside Istanbul airport after explosin.

PROPERTY BOOM: Coast prices set to skyrocket

Like other areas in south-east Queensland, the Sunshine Coast is at the start of the upturn on the property clock.

Values predicted to rise 25-33%

DIY: How to build a backyard fire pit

DIY stars and Weekend magazine columnists Ayden and Jess Hogan.

Would you build this for your backyard?