Reef Monitoring and Reporting

Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program

The Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program (RIMReP) is a coordinated and integrated monitoring, modelling and reporting program for the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), which:

  • Underpins the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan’s (Reef 2050 Plan) adaptive management approach, evaluating whether actions are on track to achieving targets;
  • Allows the early detection of trends and changes in the Reef’s environment;
  • Informs the assessment of key threats and future risks;
  • Enables timely management responses;
  • Ensures investments are focused on actions that will effectively deliver measurable results;
  • Informs annual report cards and the five-yearly Outlook Report;
  • Drives the coordination, alignment and integration of existing monitoring, modelling and reporting programs to capitalise on existing program investment, provide value for money, improve efficiency and avoid duplication of effort.

RIMReP is being developed collaboratively by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Queensland and Commonwealth Governments, science, industry and community partners.

 

Great Barrier Reef partnerships for improved water quality and ecosystems

There are a number of regional partnerships across Queensland, particularly in the Great Barrier Reef catchment, which are monitoring our river ecosystems that feed to the reef. The partnerships are made up of representatives from Government, agriculture, resources (including a number of QRC’s members), other commercial industry, tourism, research and community interests.

 

While not directly involved in river management, the partnerships develop report cards, which are designed to inform consideration of whether current management strategies are proving successful in maintaining the health of the regions’ river ecosystems and ultimately the Great Barrier Reef.

 

The Fitzroy Partnership for River Health has been in operation since 2012. The latest report card for 2016/17 put the Fitzroy Basin at an overall C grade (fair) for aquatic ecosystem health, which is a decline from a B grade (good) in 2015/16. The Upper Dawson, Fitzroy and Lower Isaac Catchments were awarded a B grade while all other catchments were a C grade. Stewardship for agricultural use of water across all catchments was awarded either an A or B grade.

 

The Mackay-Whitsunday Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership commenced in 2014. The latest report card for 2016/17 showed the overall grade for  the catchments was a C grade (moderate) with the offshore zone at a B grade (good), which is consistent with the results for 2015/16. However, inshore areas have declined in aquatic health from a C grade in 2015/16 to a D grade (poor) . Stewardship across heavy industry, ports, aquaculture, tourism and urban development was ‘effective’ or ‘very effective’. Although further work is needed across the agriculture sector (sugarcane, grazing and horticulture) to increase the land under best practice management with stewardship at a low rate of confidence.

 

The Gladstone Healthy Harbours Partnership first started in 2012. The latest report card for 2016/17 rated the overall environmental result as a C grade (satisfactory), which is consistent with the results for 2015/16. The Harbour received a grade of A (very good) for water and sediment, C for fish and crab indicators and D (poor) for habitats. Stewardship across industry, ports remained ‘effective’ with urban development improving from ‘partially effective’ since 2015/16 to ‘effective’.

 

Beyond the partnerships, the Queensland Government has established the Reef Water Quality Improvement Plan 2017-2022 for key catchments across the State, which sets the framework and targets for improving the health and condition of GBR waterways.

 

The highest priority areas for reducing fine sediment, dissolved inorganic nitrogen and pesticide loads are:

  • Fine sediment and particulate nutrients: Burdekin, Herbert, Fitzroy and Mary catchments.
  • Dissolved inorganic nitrogen: Herbert, Haughton, Mulgrave-Russell, Johnstone, Tully and Plane catchments.
  • Pesticides: Plane, Pioneer and Haughton catchments.

The catchment profiles provide information about each area including size and rainfall, land use, targets, the priorities for water quality improvement and sources of pollutants.

 

The science behind the state of the Great Barrier Reef

The state of the GBR has been comprehensively analysed in recent years. Independent scientific studies have identified major threats to the GBR’s health:

  • Poor water quality from land-based activities, primarily from agriculture;
  • Coastal development;
  • Extreme weather (storms and cyclones); and
  • Climate change.

The key documents underpinning GBR policy and decision making are: