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Australian government pledges to protect Great Barrier Reef

It's one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The 2,000 km Great Barrier Reef is home to thousands of fish species and hundreds of coral types. And it's worth 6 billion USD a year to the local tourism economy. But UNESCO warned Australia last year that the World Heritage Site could be listed as "in danger" if there was no progress on protecting the reef by February 1. They say it's under threat from growing coal and gas shipments, climate change and the predatory crown-of-thorns starfish. Environment Minister Tony Burke said the government is firmly committed on saving the reef. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FEDERAL ENVIRONMENT MINISTER TONY BURKE SAYING: "The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most precious places on earth and Australia and the Australian government has a clear commitment to protecting it." But the growing coal industry is causing problems. Coal is one of Australia's top export earners but the reef faces growing threats from shipping.

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