Media Release Fight For Our Reef

Marine conservationists welcome $3m to help tackle water pollution in our Reef

September 28, 2021

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has welcomed today’s announcement of funding from the Queensland Government to help monitor water pollution from farms that neighbour the Great Barrier Reef.

The $3 million funding aims to monitor water quality in the Tully and Johnstone regions and will help cane and banana farmers reduce the amount of fertiliser lost from their farms into local waterways which flow into our Reef.

This funding, part of the $270 million announced in June this year, cements the state government’s commitment to tackle water pollution and will help give our Reef the cleaner water it needs to be healthy and resilient in the face of global warming and unsustainable fishing practices.

AMCS Great Barrier Reef Water Quality Manager Jaimi Webster said AMCS had been pushing for funding to be directed towards outcomes that will help improve the quality of water entering our inshore Reef. However, what’s missing from this announcement is how much funding the government has committed to compliance with the Reef water quality regulations.

“The Reef is one of the greatest natural wonders on Earth but we are allowing chemicals and sediment to leak into the inshore areas of our Reef harming habitats that are essential for dugongs and turtles. We can fix that right now,” said Ms Webster.

“We are urging the Queensland government to commit funding towards ensuring farmers are inspected for compliance with the Reef water quality regulations. Achieving a high level of compliance is critical to reducing the chemical and sediment pollution that flows from farms into waterways and into our Reef.

“All ocean ecosystems need healthy water to stay healthy. We need strong enforcement of all laws that protect our Great Barrier Reef from chemical and sediment pollution.”

Notes to editors

Poor water quality is a major threat to inshore areas of our World Heritage listed Reef.

Polluted water, containing sediment and chemical fertiliser, flowing from agricultural and urban/industrial lands in the catchments is discharged from rivers and can become trapped in the inshore areas of our Reef. Due to coastal currents  and the influence of winds and tides, these areas are not flushed by the Coral Sea to the same extent as the outer reefs a hundred or more kilometres offshore.

The inshore areas where the pollution tends to accumulate, are important habitat for turtles and dugongs and nurseries for juvenile fish of species like barramundi, red emperor and mangrove jack, which are targets for Queensland’s commercial and recreational fishers.

Reef protection regulations were introduced in 2019 by the Queensland government to reduce chemical and sediment run-off from agricultural activities in the Reef catchments.