Farewell to a great protector of Reef

One of the world’s finest water quality scientists, Dr Jon Brodie, has passed away. However, the crucial work he dedicated his life to—which included protecting the Great Barrier Reef—will benefit generations to come.

Dr Brodie was a Professorial Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) at James Cook University.

He made significant contributions to protecting the Great Barrier Reef, leading many research programs that broadened public knowledge and scientific understanding of the Australian icon. In doing so, Dr Brodie was fearless. He often spoke out forcefully and truthfully about environmental issues.

Dr Brodie’s passion for science led him to complete a BSc in Inorganic Chemistry in 1968. He was then an analytical chemist and technical teacher at Newcastle Technical College for many years.

Following the completion of his post-graduate studies, Dr Brodie held many roles including: Chief Research Scientist for the Centre for Tropical Water & Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER); Director of the Water Quality and Coastal Development Section at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), and Director of the Institute of Natural Resources at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji.

Dr Brodie was a world authority on water quality: the sources of pollutants in catchments; the transport of pollutants to the marine environment; the dispersal of land-based pollutants in coastal and marine environments, and the effects of terrestrial pollutants on marine ecosystems. He established the TropWATER water quality laboratory that still exists to this day.

Dr Brodie regularly advised Australian governments on policies regarding the management of water quality issues on the Great Barrier Reef.

The Director-General of the QLD Department of Environment and Science recently thanked Dr Brodie for his “leadership in investigating land use impacts on the Reef, and your dedication to water pollution research in the tropical north.” Both efforts produced crucial scientific evidence to support government actions to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

Dr Brodie’s work was fundamental in the development of the Reef Water Quality Protection Plans and Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan. The water quality targets he detailed within these publications guide today’s local land management.

Throughout his career, Dr Brodie published more than 100 peer reviewed articles and more than 300 technical reports, books and book chapters.

He was a giant in his field, widely acknowledged as irreplaceable. His work leaves a deep and enduring impact not only on the thousands of people who had contact with him, but on water quality and reef management all over the world.

Dr Brodie remained central to his field right to his final days, when, in typical fashion, he was working fruitfully on a range of research and policy outputs.

Though Dr Brodie’s valuable legacy remains, his meticulous science, fierce spirit and no-nonsense straight-talking will be sorely missed.

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