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Monday, March 29, 2004

A new law to protect the Great Barrier Reef
The Australian government is to ban fishing from one third of the Great Barrier Reef and to more strictly limit the movement of shipping near the reef.

Each year, the reef, which is Australia's number one tourist attraction, attracts 1,000,000 tourists and helps to inject A$4.3 billion into the national economy.

However, WWF Australia has recently warned that the reef is likely to be dead within the next 100 years, and will then take between 100 and 500 years to recover - depending on the action taken to tackle predicted climate change and reduce the impacts of human activities, which can harm the reef.

It is therefore very good news that the government has taken such prompt action, and demontrated a willingness to protect the environment, as well as the future of the local tourist industry.

When the new law comes into force, in July, the reef will become the world's largest protected reef system.

Commercial fishermen, who have resisted the ban, will also be offered assistance including: the buying-out of licences and assistance with training for alternative careers.