Mars Sustainable Solutions, part of family owned Mars Incorporated, and Reef Magic Cruises today announced the successful installation of a system to support the long-term resilience of the Great Barrier Reef’s marine ecosystem. The project is a collaboration with James Cook University and local Indigenous rangers.
Reef Magic marine biologists including Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) Master Reef Guides installed the first Reef Stars at the Reef Magic Marine World Pontoon, 40 kilometres offshore from Cairns on Thursday 18 June 2020. The team plans to install approximately 50 additional Reef Stars every six months. This will form part of a five-year scientific study with James Cook University to trial the system’s effectiveness in stabilising coral rubble resulting from Cyclone Yasi in 2011.
Central to the Mars Assisted Reef Restoration System (MARRS), the individual Reef Stars are hexagonal sand-coated steel structures that provide a stable base for coral fragments to grow. They have shown impressive results from the initial conception in Indonesia, where coral cover at sites has increased from 10% to over 60% within just two years. The collaborative program of work spans several countries across the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Ocean.
Eric Fisher, Biology Manager at Reef Magic and GBR Biology, says the project is about boosting coral resilience and site stewardship: “This partnership is a great example of using the latest science to underpin our approach to sustainable tourism, and we are particularly pleased to trial this system for the first time in Australia.”
The scaleable system to increase coral reef ecosystem resilience was pioneered by the company better known for its consumer goods in 2011, in collaboration with local communities and marine scientists from around the world.
Alicia McArdle, Marine Program Manager for Mars Sustainable Solutions, said: “We are thrilled to be bringing the Reef Star system to Australia to help future-proof the health and biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef. Our goal is to provide coral colonies with valuable time to adapt and increase their resilience at the same time as society seeks to reduce its emissions to reverse the impacts of climate change”.
John O’Sullivan, CEO of Experience Co, Reef Magic’s parent company, said: “We are delighted to be part of this initiative with this collaboration and look forward to continuing innovative site stewardship around our pontoon. Reef Magic is committed to delivering immersive, memorable and life-changing experiences on the Great Barrier Reef.”
The Honorable Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment, welcomed the announcement, stating: “I’m pleased to see businesses, such as Mars, and the tourism industry trialling innovative approaches to help support reef ecosystems at iconic sites like Moore Reef. The Australian Government, through the Reef 2050 Plan, is committed to broader efforts to help the reef resist, adapt to, and recover from the impacts of climate change.”