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The Crown-of-thorns Starfish (COTS) Control Program has been named a finalist in the Biodiversity category for the 34th Banksia National Sustainability Awards – Australia’s longest running and most prestigious sustainability awards. 

The nomination recognises the outstanding contribution of the program partners in delivering a paradigm shift in our capacity to defend coral and biodiversity on the Great Barrier Reef using research findings from the Australian Government funded National Environmental Science Program (NESP) Tropical Water Quality Hub. 

Reef Authority Director of Reef Interventions, Dr Roger Beeden, said it’s an honour to be representing the researchers, managers, tourism industry and community partners who’ve partnered to deliver such great outcomes for the Reef. 

“The Australian Government funded COTS Control Program is delivered through a partnership between the Reef Authority, the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC), the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, working together to protect the coral foundations of the Reef,” Dr Beeden said. 

“The RRRC nomination reflects their vital oversight of the NESP funded Integrated Pest Management (IPM) research that now underpins the COTS control program.   

“Since IPM was fully implemented in 2018, the program’s highly trained COTS culling teams have delivered more than 65,000 dive hours using field intelligence gathered by Marine Park rangers, researchers, tourism operators, community members, and Traditional Owners to track, predict and respond to COTS outbreaks in the Marine Park.” 

Reef Authority CEO, Josh Thomas, said the Banksia Award nomination is a wonderful recognition of the tireless efforts of the largest coral protection program on the Reef. 

“Crown-of-thorns starfish control is widely recognised as an essential, targetable, cost-effective tool to protect coral habitat resilience and biodiversity as the climate changes,” Mr Thomas said. 

“It complements the broad suite of existing Reef management actions deployed by the Reef Authority across the World Heritage area. 

“Protecting key coral reefs and tourism sites by expanding the Crown-of-thorns Starfish Control Program not only benefits the Great Barrier Reef as a whole but also helps to secure the jobs of the many whose day-to-day livelihoods rely on a healthy and resilient Reef.” 

Over the past decade, the COTS Control Program partners have protected more than 350 coral reefs — some 750,000 hectares — from the devastating impacts of the coral-eating starfish. 

To date more than 1.1 million COTS have been culled, stopping billions of potential offspring from infiltrating the Reef.

Winners for the 34th Banksia National Sustainability Awards announced at a gala event to be held at the Melbourne Convention and Entertainment Centre on Thursday, 23 March 2023.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority 
Media Hotline: (07) 4750 0846 |                    

Updated 8 May 2023
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