The Australian and Queensland Governments yesterday released the 2014 State Party Report on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area which highlights the significant progress being made to improve the management, health and protection of this amazing iconic area.
This progress report has been delivered to the World Heritage Committee meeting currently underway and demonstrates unequivocally the Australian and Queensland Governments’ commitment to better managing and protecting this natural wonder.
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt said getting the management and protection of the reef right is a top priority for the Abbott government.
“The Government is implementing important initiatives such as our Reef 2050 Plan, Reef Trust, and funding vital projects such as Crown of Thorns Starfish eradication and the Gladstone Healthy Harbours Partnership,” he said.
“The federal Government is working closely with Queensland to help protect this Australian icon for future generations.
“The report shows that the Great Barrier Reef’s outstanding universal value and integrity remain largely intact and Australia has made substantial progress and commitment in responding to the requests of the World Heritage Committee.
“In close cooperation with the Queensland Government, we are boosting the conservation of the Reef through a range of approaches both on land and in the marine environment.
“This includes carrying out the comprehensive strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef, an ongoing commitment to the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan and continuing strict protection under national environment laws.
“It was the Abbott Government that ensured the Abbot Point project was one-twelfth the size of what was proposed under previous state and federal Labor governments.
In addition the Government has also ruled out in advance the previous Labor Government’s 12 million cubic metre dredging proposal for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park near Gladstone,” Mr Hunt said.
The report also confirms that the management changes and water quality improvements being implemented are having a positive impact on water quality across the Great Barrier Reef catchments through the 2011 Reef Plan Report Card.
Queensland Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Andrew Powell said the Queensland Government was equally confident that it would meet the World Heritage Committee expectations regarding reef management.
“The Queensland government has carried out a significant amount of work to help improve the health of the reef and protect it in the future,” Mr Powell said.
“We have established the Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership and released our draft ports strategy and the strategic coastal zone assessment for public consultation.
“We are also working with farmers to reduce run off onto the reef through our Best Management Practice (BMP) programs and we are seeing improvements to water quality in our Reef report cards.”
Among the Australian and Queensland governments’ other key achievements since the 2013 State Party Report are:
– Releasing a Scientific Consensus Statement on land use impacts on water quality and ecosystem condition which confirms that the greatest cause of decline in Great Barrier Reef water quality has been associated with errestrial run-off from broad scale agriculture;
– Releasing a draft Queensland Ports Strategy that commits to concentrating port development within existing major port areas to improve their efficiency and environmental management;
– Completing an Independent Review of the Port of Gladstone that proposes principles for improved port operation, including the incorporation of World Heritage protection and cumulative impact assessment in planning (these findings have also informed the development of the Queensland Ports Strategy);
– Releasing a draft North-East Shipping Management Plan that proposes measures to help manage any risks of increased shipping traffic, including some measures to be implemented through an Anchorage Management Working Group.
The government has also committed $140 million through the reef programme over the next five years to improve the quality of water flowing into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon and enhance the reef’s resilience.
“We are confident that we have the appropriate processes, resources and environmental protection mechanisms in place to ensure that the Great Barrier Reef continues to be among the best managed and protected World Heritage areas in the world.”
Press Release, February 3, 2014