$270m funding boost is great news for Reef health

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has welcomed a huge pre-budget funding commitment from the Queensland Government that will ensure efforts to tackle poor water quality in our Great Barrier Reef can continue.

The $270 million funding renewal has cemented the state government’s commitment this term to improving the health of the Reef. It will fund the continued roll out of the Reef protection regulations and enable support for farmers working to improve the quality of water running off from their agricultural lands into the inshore areas of our Reef.

AMCS Great Barrier Reef Water Quality Manager Jaimi Webster said AMCS had been pushing for the funding renewal since the 2020 election because improving water quality is so critical for our Reef’s ecosystems, wildlife and the communities and industries that rely on it to be healthy.

“We are urging the government to use this funding to ensure a high level of compliance with the science-backed Reef Regulations rolling out currently. This will help give our Reef the clean water it needs to be as healthy and resilient as possible to warming waters driven by global heating,” said Ms Webster.

“Water polluted with high levels of nitrogen (from fertiliser) and sediment flows from agricultural lands into the inshore areas of our Reef that we all love to visit and which are home to important reef habitats for marine wildlife like dugongs and turtles.

“These habitats have been severely degraded by this pollution over decades. Sediment in the water reduces the sunlight available to seagrasses and inshore corals and can smother and kill them, putting dugongs and other wildlife at risk of starvation. The overuse of fertilisers can result in excess nutrients, which are an additional stress factor for many coral species and can result in harmful algal blooms.”

The Reef Regulations were introduced in 2019 by the Queensland government to reduce chemical and sediment run-off from agricultural activities in the 35 Reef catchments.

This followed decades of funding for voluntary schemes which failed to clean up waters. As successive Water Quality Report Cards have shown, voluntary measures have been insufficient to clean up the water flowing into the Reef, which is why the laws were introduced.

The regulations are designed to help meet water quality targets the Queensland and Australian governments have committed to meeting to improve the health of the Great Barrier Reef. With this funding commitment, AMCS expects the next Water Quality Report Card, due in 2022, will show marked progress towards meeting the targets.

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