Dismal reef report card “not for the faint-hearted”

Aerial of the Great Barrier Reef.
Aerial of the Great Barrier Reef. C Veron

THE Great Barrier Reef Report Card 2014 released today has shown the poor state the 2300km-long icon is in, with Environment Minister Steven Miles describing the findings as not for the faint-hearted.

"The finding that most jumps out… is the overall condition of the inshore marine environment remains poor,"  Dr Miles said.

But he said inshore seagrass and coral in some regions improving.

"But these are small snippets of good news in a report card that has more bad news than good," Dr Miles said.

The report, which assesses the combined results of all Reef Water Quality Protection Plan actions up until June 2014, shows the progress reaching long-term modelled pollutant reductions is getting slower.

Dr Miles said the most work to be done was in the sugar cane industry.

"Only 13% of land was managed under best management practice systems, 23% for soil management and 30% for pesticide use," he said.

The report found only 47% of grazing land in the reef catchment area was managed using the best management practice systems for streambank erosion, over one quarter for erosion from pastures and nearly one quarter for gully erosion.

But 71% of horticulture land was found to be using best practice systems for soil and nearly half for pesticide use.
Dr Miles praised the industry exceeding the pesticide target, grains, in the Burdekin region.

He said more landholders needed to change their farming practices to reduce pollution seeping into the reef to reach water quality targets and the UNESCO-supported reef 2050 plan.

"We cannot simply do more of the same," Dr Miles.

Topics:  environment minister great barrier reef unesco

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