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The new Reef Water Quality Report Card and 2019 Reef Outlook Report paint a worrying picture for the Reef

30 August, 2019

EDO Qld is gravely concerned that actions to date to reduce the pollutant load to our Reef are too slow and too weak to meaningfully build the Reef’s resilience.

The Reef Water Quality Report Card 2017 and 2018 was released today by Federal Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley and Queensland's Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch.

The report card outlines the progress of the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan up to June 2018.

As you can clearly see below, and similarly to previous report cards, Queensland is well-below where it needs to be to have any chance of achieving the 2025 catchment targets, let alone the 2050 targets and Australia's Paris Agreement obligations.

Report Card

That's why the new Reef regulations the Queensland Government is introducing are so important.

EDO Qld have been working with the Queensland Government, to improve the regulation of water quality impacts from the agricultural and development sector for over two years. Stronger regulation will see a huge reduction in the amount of nutrients and sediments entering our Reef from upstream activities.

Click here to access the full interactive report card, and see the concerning data and results.

Key findings of the new Reef Water Quality Report Card, as outlined in the Minister's media statement are:

  • Overall marine condition was poor in 2017-2018.
  • Overall progress towards the sugarcane target of 90% of land managed using best management practice systems was only 9.8% to June 2018.
  • Water quality modelling showed only a 0.3% reduction in dissolved inorganic nitrogen and a 0.5% reduction in sediment in 2017-2018 across all regions.
  • Shows many landholders have invested time and resources to reduce pollution flowing to the Reef but the results reflect the scale of change still needed to meet the targets.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority also released its 2019 Outlook Report, released every five years, which examines the Great Barrier Reef’s health, pressures, and likely future. This year, the Report again shows the overall outlook for the Reef is very poor.

Key findings of the 2019 Outlook Report, as outlined in the Minister's media statement are:

  • The scientific evidence is clear: initiatives that will halt and reverse the effects of climate change at a global level and effectively improve water quality at a regional scale are the most urgent to improve the Region’s long-term outlook.
  • Without additional local, national and global action on the greatest threats, the overall outlook for the Great Barrier Reef’s ecosystem will remain very poor.
  • Strong and effective management actions are urgent at global, regional and local scales.
  • The 10 threats identified in 2014 as presenting a very high risk to the Region’s ecosystem and heritage values are again the highest ranked in 2019.
  • Of the very high risk threats, most relate to climate change or land-based run-off (water quality) affecting values on a Region-wide scale. Given the current state of the Region’s values, actions to reduce the highest risks have never been more time-critical.
  • The rate of reduction of pollutant loads has been slow, reflecting modest improvements in agricultural land management practices.
  • Future initiatives need to deliver timely, best practice agricultural land management over a wider area to improve water quality.
  • Overall, habitats are assessed as being in poor condition.
  • Habitat loss, degradation and alteration have occurred in a number of areas, substantially affecting populations of some dependent species.

You can view the GBRMPA's full 2019 Outlook Report here.

For the Australian Coral Reef Society Inc.'s statement, click here

For the Reef 2050 Plan Independent Expert Panel's statement, click here.

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) gives a strong legal voice to the environment when needed most.

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The new Reef Water Quality Report Card and 2019 Reef Outlook Report paint a worrying picture for the Reef

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