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Minister for the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2001-2004

The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

 

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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
&
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Warren Truss
&
Federal Member for Leichhardt
Warren Entsch

7 July 2004

$10.85 million for reef water quality protection plan


World Heritage Area and Australian icon, the Great Barrier Reef, will be better protected from land-based pollution thanks to $10.85 million in Australian Government funding over the next two years for the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan.

The investment, funded by the Natural Heritage Trust, was announced today by Australian Government Ministers for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, and Federal Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch.

While visiting Cairns today, Dr Kemp said the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan aims to halt and reverse the decline in water quality entering the Reef within ten years, while ensuring the ecological and economic sustainability of agricultural industries on the land adjacent to the reef.

To do this, the Plan builds on partnerships between different levels of government, industry groups, the community and research providers within the Reef catchments, especially partnerships with Regional Bodies.

"This strategic Plan, a joint Australian and Queensland Government initiative, aims to rehabilitate and conserve areas of the Reef catchment that have a role in removing water-borne pollutants," he said.

"This Plan also addresses the diffuse sources of pollutants entering rivers and streams and ending up on our Reef.

"This will be done through improved decision making in land-use planning, adopting sustainable production systems, rehabilitating damaged wetlands, and conserving existing wetlands."

The actions in the Plan encourage good planning and support landholders in the adoption and continued development of best management practices.

Mr Truss added the funds would help ensure the right research was undertaken and information and tools were provided to on-ground managers.

"This investment will help landholders manage their properties more sustainably, as well as provide education to landholders, industry and the broader community," he said.

"Assistance will be given to the community in the monitoring of water quality entering the Reef Lagoon by providing additional Waterwatch coordinators in high-risk catchments."

Mr Entsch said the funds would provide improved and new tools for measuring water quality and assessing the impact of land-use changes.

"Other actions funded under this Plan include the identification of nutrient-sensitive zones in reef catchments; implementation of a fertiliser sales by catchment reporting scheme and the investigation of a herbicide and pesticide reporting scheme," he said.

For further information about the Reef Protection Plan, visit http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/pollution/reef/index.html. For information on the Australian Government's Natural Heritage Trust, visit www.nht.gov.au

Commonwealth of Australia