Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon. Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

The Hon. Vicky Darling MP

Minister for Environment
Member for Sandgate

Great Barrier Reef report card released

Media release
12 August 2011

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke, and Queensland Minister for Environment Vicky Darling today announced the release of the Great Barrier Reef Water Quality Protection Plan First Report Card.

This first Report Card is based on 2008-09 data and establishes the baseline for future reports. Progress made towards the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan (Reef Plan) – a joint agreement between the State and Commonwealth to coordinate actions that reduce runoff of sediment, fertilisers and pesticides from broad scale agriculture which are impacting on the health of the reef – will be reflected in future reports, the first due in early 2012.

Federal Minister for the Environment, Tony Burke, said the Report Card was an important step to monitoring the impact of runoff and sediment on the reef.

"What we do on the land has a real impact on the Great Barrier Reef, with run off of sediment and fertiliser causing damage to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon," Mr Burke said.

"Many landholders are working to improve land management practices to reduce impacts on the Reef and the Gillard Government is supporting them to make these changes.

"The Gillard Government is investing $200 million over five years through the Caring for Our Country Reef Rescue initiative, which provides grants to farmers to adopt improved practices."

Queensland Minister for the Environment, Vicky Darling, said this first report, based on data from 2008-09, showed why the Bligh Government had acted with landmark legislation protecting the reef.

"The Report Card shows the Great Barrier Reef is in moderate condition overall," Ms Darling said.

"The first report card shows that 14 million tonnes of sediment are washed into the Great Barrier Reef annually as a result of human activity.

"The annual load of dissolved nitrogen is 31,000 tonnes – this means potentially millions of dollars worth of fertiliser is being wasted.

"The Queensland Government is investing $175 million over five years to implement Reef Plan actions, including $50 million to implement a Reef Protection package of legislation, research, extension and support.

"The reef is critical to tourism and while 13 per cent was exposed to the effects of Tropical Cyclone Yasi, it's still very much open for business."

The First Report Card was produced as part of the Paddock to Reef program which is a collaboration involving the Australian and Queensland Governments, agricultural industry groups, regional natural resource management bodies and research organisations.

It represents a world-leading approach to integrate data and information on management practices, catchment condition, pollutant loads and the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

For more information on the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan and the First Report Card, visit www.reefplan.qld.gov.au .