Great Barrier Reef report sparks global concern

ARIANA PANETTIERE

The Great Barrier Reef stretches for 2,300km along the North Queensland coastline.

The Great Barrier Reef stretches for 2,300km along the North Queensland coastline Source: Supplied 

The Federal Government launched a $140 million protection plan aimed at improving the Great Barrier Reef’s water quality this week at the International Riversymposium in South Brisbane.

The Great Barrier Reef Report Card 2014 found the greatest water quality risks between 2009 and June 2014 were sugarcane, nitrogen, sediment and pesticides.

Queensland Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Steven Miles says the reef water quality protection plan is one of the key actions under the new Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan.

“The report showed that progress towards reducing water pollution flatlined from 2012-13 to 2013-14 under the LNP Government,” Mr Miles said.

“I think that these results flat lined in the period 2013-14 because we had a state government that was more interested in convincing Queensland there was nothing wrong than doing what it was going to take to protect the reef.”

Mr Miles said he is also working with agricultural sectors and farmers to implement the best management practice programs to minimise streambank erosion and compaction.

“Not only will this make farms more profitable but it ensures that the positive changes we are seeing on land will continue to translate into real, long-term benefits for the reef,” Miles said.

“Almost half (47 per cent) the grazing land in Great Barrier Reef catchments is managed using best management practice systems for streambank erosion, 28 per cent for erosion from pastures and nearly a quarter (24 per cent) for gully erosion.”

This year marks the 18th anniversary of Riversymposium.

According to Communication Director Jennifer Metcalfe it’s the world’s largest event of this kind – bringing together scientists, policy makers, community organisations and governments to talk about rivers and their health.

“70 per cent of the worlds water is accessible, so it’s important we protect our rivers and water management,” Metcalfe said.

The International Riversymposium wraps up in Brisbane today.

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