Reef protection regulations
Strong scientific evidence confirms that significant quantities of fertiliser, pesticides and sediment from sugarcane farms and grazing properties are entering the GBR lagoon. The reduction in water quality increases the risk of serious long-term effects on the reef health and decreases its resilience to pressures such as climate change and ocean acidification.
To help improve reef water quality outcomes, there are reef protection regulations for sugarcane and grazing properties in the high priority catchments Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay Whitsundays.
We recognise and applaud the many sugarcane producers and graziers who are managing their land sustainably, and who have adopted best management practices. We also know that others could do better.
To help cane farmers and graziers meet regulated standards, particularly in areas where there are high fertiliser, sediment and pesticide losses, there is a compliance program that includes property visits with landholders to provide tailored advice. The aim is to educate and ensure that farmers and graziers understand what’s required under the regulations and work with them to meet these requirements.
One of the key recommendations of the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce was to ‘implement staged and targeted regulations’. The Queensland Government proposes to broaden and enhance its existing reef protection regulations to eradicate the most polluting practices from land-based activities including agricultural production, urban development and other intensive land uses. Further detail on the regulatory proposals can be found in the ‘Enhancing regulations to ensure clean water for a healthy Great Barrier Reef and a prosperous Queensland’ discussion paper.