The Great Barrier Reef is in safe hands with the release of a report card showing a combined effort from both the Commonwealth and State Governments has improved the quality of water entering the reef catchment.
The Great Barrier Reef Report Card 2012 and 2013, released today by Federal Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt MP and Queensland Minister for the Environment and Heritage Protection Andrew Powell MP, shows the efforts of farmers and graziers have made a real difference.
The report card measures progress in action taken to improve water quality in the reef between July 2009 and June 2013.
“While recent extreme weather events have hindered our efforts to strengthen the health and resilience of the reef, the report card confirms significant progress has been made to improve water quality entering the reef lagoon,” Mr Hunt said.
“I’m delighted we have met the Reef Plan’s immediate goal of improving the quality of water entering the reef. This is a massive achievement after a long period of decline.”
To further support the outcomes of the report, The Commonwealth and Queensland Governments are investing $15 million from the Reef Trust as part of a strong commitment to improve the health of the iconic Great Barrier Reef and ensure its long-term protection.
The first investments to be made from the Reef Trust include:
• $5 million Dugong and Turtle Protection Plan;
• $2 million for crown-of-thorns starfish control;
• $5 million to improve water quality from runoff in the wet tropics region, in particular nitrogen;
• $3 million to improve grazing management practices in the Burdekin and Fitzroy regions to reduce sediment runoff.
Queensland Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Andrew Powell said the important investments from the Reef Trust will build on improvements already achieved through a combination of initiatives.
“Nearly 30 years of monitoring by the Australian Institute of Marine Science has shown that the key impacts on the reef continue to be severe weather events such as cyclones, crown of thorns starfish and coral bleaching,” Mr Powell said.
“It is why we have committed another $35 million a year to reduce runoff and improve water quality in last week’s State budget.
“The Newman government is doing more to protect the Reef than any government before it we are delivering what we promised- and we are seeing measurably improved outcomes.
“While the Newman Government works with our farmers to implement best management practice systems, the federal government is continuing investment into reducing crown of thorns starfish.
“By working together I am confident we have the appropriate processes, resources and environmental protection mechanisms in place to ensure the Great Barrier Reef continues to be among the best managed World Heritage areas in the world.”
Minister Hunt said the Australian Government’s election commitment to develop a Reef 2050 Plan to guide the sustainability, management and long-term protection of the Great Barrier Reef has also made great progress.
“Chief among these is the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly deliver the Reef Trust and the release of the first phase of projects to be delivered by the Trust,” Mr Hunt said.
“We also acknowledge the significant progress made towards finalising the Great Barrier Reef strategic assessment being undertaken by the Queensland Government and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
“The recently released Queensland Port Strategy builds on the commitment made by Queensland last year to restrict any significant port development within and adjoining the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area to within existing port limits.
“The impending completion of the strategic assessment fulfils a key recommendation of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. Once finalised, it will aid the preparation of the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan for protecting the reef and coastal zone.”
The Federal and Queensland Governments are also establishing a Reef 2050 Partnership group comprising a wide range of stakeholders who understand the issues and challenges facing the Great Barrier Reef.
The Partnership will work together and draw on the best expertise, science, policy and planning to ensure the long-term protection of the iconic reef.
“Getting the Great Barrier Reef’s management and protection right is a top priority for both the Commonwealth and the State Governments,” Mr Hunt said.
“We are committed to protecting this world heritage listed icon now and for future generations.”
Press Release, June 12, 2014