Australian PM Pledges REEF Funds

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, facing a tight re-election battle, pledged on Monday a A$1 billion ($738 million) fund for the Great Barrier Reef, where scientists say mass coral bleaching has destroyed vast tracts of the World Heritage site.

A report late last month said mass coral bleaching, caused by climate change, had destroyed at least 35 percent of the northern and central Great Barrier Reef and that the coral mortality rate would likely rise.

The report cast a shadow over the long-term prospects for the reef, which attracts about A$5 billion ($3.7 billion) in tourism each year. Scientists also believe UNESCO may reconsider its decision not to put the reef on its endangered list.

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