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Report card shows more effort needed to protect Reef

THE Great Barrier Reef Report Card 2014 shows there is room for improvement from industries, in particular sugarcane.

The Great Barrier Reef Report Card 2014 released today shows landholders are continuing to help protect the Great Barrier Reef by reducing pollutant loads entering the reef, but accelerated change is needed to achieve the targets.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Queensland Minister for the Great Barrier Reef Steven Miles released the report card to coincide with the International Riversymposium in Brisbane.

"Sugarcane is the industry where we have the most work to do, with only 13% of land managed under best management practice systems for nutrients, 23% for soil management and 30% for pesticide use," Dr Miles said

"Catchment loads modelling, which models the change in key pollutants entering the reef as a result of reported improvements in management practice systems showed continued progress in reducing runoff.

"Since 2009, pollutant loads have reduced for sediment (12%), particulate nitrogen (11.5%), particulate phosphorus (14.5%), dissolved inorganic nitrogen (17%) and pesticides (30.5%)."

Report Card 2014 assesses the combined results of all Reef Water Quality Protection Plan actions up to June 2014.

"Almost half (47%) the grazing land in Great Barrier Reef catchments is managed using best management practice systems for streambank erosion, 28% for erosion from pastures and nearly a quarter (24%) for gully erosion," Mr Hunt said.

"This is particularly important because we want to reduce the amount of sediment flowing to the Great Barrier Reef and minimise the risk of seagrass and coral damage.

"Almost three quarters (71%) of horticulture land is managed using best management practice systems for soil and nearly half (45%) for pesticide use.

"The top performing industry was grains which exceeded the pesticide target (91%) in the Burdekin region."

Dr Miles said the results highlighted the challenge of gaining significant progress in improved land management at a reef-wide scale.

"In this reporting period, the rate of progress towards our water quality improvement targets has slowed dramatically. Continuing to improve reef water quality is one of the key actions under the new Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan and it is critical we build the momentum in reducing runoff from the catchments," Dr Miles said.

Mr Hunt said while there are improvements, further work was required.

"Inshore seagrass has shown signs of recovery in some regions and inshore coral reefs continue to improve," Mr Hunt said.

"It takes time for improvements in land management to translate into measurable outcomes in marine condition. We know the positive changes we are seeing on land will continue to translate into real, long-term benefits for the reef."

"Continuing to improve reef water quality is one of the key actions under the new Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan and we will continue to take action to reduce runoff from the catchments."

Report Card 2014 and more information about Reef Water Quality Protection Plan outcomes in 2013-2014 can be found on the http://www.reefplan.qld.gov.au/measuring-success/report-cards/2014/ website.



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