Sediment, pesticides and nitrogen threatening reef

Pesticides were the worst threat for the Mackay and Whitsunday region, followed by nitrogen.
Pesticides were the worst threat for the Mackay and Whitsunday region, followed by nitrogen. C Veron

SEDIMENT runoff is the highest threat to water quality in the Fitzroy catchment, a report released on Monday found.

The Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce Full Interim Report December 2015 stated pesticides were the second worst threat for the reef and catchments from St Lawrence to just south of Gladstone.

Pesticides were the worst threat for the Mackay and Whitsunday region, followed by nitrogen.

But taskforce chair and chief scientist Dr Geoff Garrett found the most significant long-term threat to the 2100km icon is climate change.

The report has warned Queensland needs faster progress towards its water quality targets, including reducing nitrogen run-off by up to 80% and sediment run-off by up to 50%.

The taskforce suggests a 2016 review and establishment of regional targets to tackle pollutants.

One of 10 recommendations is that landholders be offered incentives such as concessional loans, grants and stamp duty relaxations to protect water quality.

Dr Garrett is also pushing for the government to simplify policy relating to water quality, to pool resources and to clarify roles and responsibilities.

The report recommends government funding be used to leverage corporate and philanthropic funds through public-private partnerships.

That funding is the $90 million the government has pledged to the Taskforce, Queensland's existing $35 million annual funding and the $140 million Reef Trust.

The taskforce will now seek comments from a wide range of stakeholders on the report's conclusions and recommendations.

Submissions close on February 22, 2016. 



56% of the world's hard coral species

One-third of the world's soft coral and sea pen species

Six of the world's seven species of marine turtles

54% of the world's mangrove diversity

23% of the world's seagrass diversity

13% of the world's species of starfish, sea urchins and sea cucumbers

Seabird breeding colonies on islands of world significance

One of the world's most important populations of dugongs

Topics:  environment fitzroy great barrier reef mackay whitsundays

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