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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Premier
    The Honourable Anna Bligh

    Wednesday, October 08, 2008

    PREMIER RELEASES NEW REPORT ON GREAT BARRIER REEF

    Premier
    The Honourable Anna Bligh

    Wednesday, October 08, 2008

    PREMIER RELEASES NEW REPORT ON GREAT BARRIER REEF

    A new report released today showed water quality on the Great Barrier Reef was not improving and further action was needed to stop it from dying.

    Premier Anna Bligh said the 2007 Water Quality Report for the Great Barrier Reef was the first in a regular series of report cards on the health of the reef.

    “Our Great Barrier Reef is one of the natural wonders of the world,” Ms Bligh said.

    “It fringes our north east Australian coast for approximately 2,000 kilometres, covers 348,000 square kilometres and has more than 3,200 coral reefs with a stunning array of marine habitats and species.

    “It is a stunning international tourist icon worth hundreds of millions of dollars to our economy.”

    Ms Bligh said over the last 150 years the catchments of the Great Barrier Reef have been extensively developed for agriculture, grazing, tourism, mining and urban development.

    She said this had led to a significant increase in the quantity of sediments, nutrients and pesticides being pumped into the Reef.

    “Regional bodies, industry groups and State and Commonwealth agencies have been working with farmers and other stakeholders to promote and implement better land management practices,” Ms Bligh said

    “However the 2007 Water Quality Report for the Great Barrier Reef clearly shows the situation is still not good enough.

    End of river monitoring in priority catchments shows an estimated:

    • 6.6 million tonnes of sediment discharged in the reef lagoon – four times higher than estimated pre-European settlement levels;
    • 16,600 tonnes of nitrogen – five times higher than estimated pre-European settlement levels; and
    • 4,180 tonnes of phosphorous – four times higher than estimated pre-European settlement levels.

    Ms Bligh said in 2003 the State Government launched a 10 year Reef Water Quality Action Plan with the Federal Government.

    “Work done to date as part of the Plan includes financial incentives to help farmers improve land management practices and targeting diffuse pollution from broadscale land use,” she said.

    “However, since 2003 many external factors have deteriorated including the effects of climate change, coral bleaching and ocean acidification.

    “It has increased the urgency for more work to be done.

    “I have discussed this matter with the Prime Minister and met with Environment Minister Peter Garrett.

    “We have agreed to update the Plan and give it more grunt.

    “As a result the first step will be a joint Commonwealth/State Reef Water Quality Summit at Parliament House at the end of this month.

    “It will bring together the best minds from environmental and scientific fields to study the latest data and discuss what urgent action we need to take to prevent the demise of the Reef.

    “This work will help determine funding priorities and action areas for our Government.”

    October 8, 2008

    Media Contact: Premier’s Office – 3224 4500