Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef

Report details state's environmental health

THE pressures facing the Great Barrier Reef and marine ecosystems along the Queensland coast were put in the spotlight in an environmental report released on Wednesday.

The State of the Environment Report - the first to be released in a digital online format - detailed how the environment was tracking in areas including biodiversity, pollution, climate and heritage.

Pressures facing the Great Barrier Reef made up a large part of the report, including the threats of climate change, coastal development, fishing, land-based run off and crown of thorns starfish.

Reef health as a result of climate change and from crown of thorns starfish were each graded as "very poor”.

The report also said fishing continued to negatively affect the reef from discarded catches, overfishing, illegal fishing and catching species that held a conservation concern.

The State of the Environment report also detailed the health of other ecosystems in Queensland.

The Fitzroy Basin's overall marine condition was named as being "poor”, as it had been in 2013-14.

Inshore seagrass had also remained in a "poor” condition while coral reefs were still in a "very poor” condition, which they had been since 2011-12.

While the Fitzroy marine zone was labelled to be mostly in a "poor” condition, the report card found that water quality was in a good condition based on the region's freshwater catchments.

Gladstone Harbour was also mentioned in the report, along with its C grading.

The report said the overall environmental health of the harbour remained a C grading, which was considered satisfactory.

In Mackay and the Whitsundays, the inshore marine condition was rated as a D in the central zone, and a C in the northern zone, closer to the Whitsundays.

But the rating improved to a B in offshore areas.

The pressures facing world heritage area, Fraser Island, were also detailed, including invasive species, tourism and climate change.

The report said invasive plants and animals were negatively affecting some forest and heath systems on Fraser Island.

Tourist numbers to the island had doubled since it was added to the world heritage list in 1992 and the report said increased visitors could result in local degradation of the perched freshwater dune lakes.

A State of the Environment report is produced every four years. This is the sixth report and was the first to be prepared in a digital online format.

Environment Minister Steven Miles said there were more than 1200 tables, graphs, charts and images and more than 100 data sets. - ARM NEWSDESK



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