$63 million to support Great Barrier Reef science

Joint media release with the Prime Minister the Hon Scott Morrison MP

The Morrison Government is investing $63.6 million into the vital science and research infrastructure that helps to protect the Great Barrier Reef and support the thousands of jobs and businesses that rely on the natural wonder.

The funding package will significantly bolster the scientific capabilities of Australia’s world leading Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), which has been studying the Great Barrier Reef continuously for 35 years. The $63.6 million includes:

  • $26.5 million to remediate AIMS' Cape Cleveland wharf, south of Townsville, and an additional $1.5 million in ongoing funding to maintain the wharf.
  • $37.1 million over three years to increase AIMS’ capability to deliver the critical marine science that protects and preserves oceans and coral reefs.

This includes $5.3 million for design work on a replacement for the AIMS research vessel, the RV Cape Ferguson, which has been in commission since 2000.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new $63.6 million investment builds on the Government’s more than $3 billion investment under the Reef 2050 Plan.

“Australia’s leadership in reef management and reef science is second to none, and this new investment will ensure that we continue to lead the way,” the Prime Minister said.

“This investment will allow our marine scientists to take their research to the next level, and continue to work alongside other scientists, farmers, traditional owners, local communities and tourism operators in our shared endeavour to understand and protect our iconic Great Barrier Reef.

“The remediation of Cape Cleveland wharf will mean scientists can access the research vessels directly from the AIMS site, rather than having to board up in Townsville. It also means that after research trips scientists can seamlessly unload sensitive scientific research samples, including coral, rapidly from the reef to the aquarium complex.

“My Government has a deep commitment to the reef and the evidence based marine science that will protect it for generations to come and support the almost 64,000 people who drive the $6.4 billion reef economy.”

Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said the wharf upgrade and the design of a new research vessel would meet essential needs.

“The wharf is critical to delivering AIMS’ science activities, including important Government priorities like the Reef 2050 Plan,” Minister Price said.

Remediation works will be done by raising the sea wall, extending it further into the harbour and construction of a new wharf in deeper water.

“This will minimise the environmental impact as required under the environmental guidelines for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area,” Minister Price said.

“The wharf is vital to the work of AIMS, allowing its vessels, and research partners, to have direct access from the reef to on-site laboratories and the SeaSim research aquarium.

“A new coastal research vessel will also be needed to replace the aging RV Cape Ferguson. Our support for the design of a next generation vessel will ensure a replacement can be constructed before the RV Cape Ferguson needs to be retired.

“These initiatives will support the critical science and research of AIMS that helps Australia manage threats to the health and future of the Great Barrier Reef.”