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Existing 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 the reef's 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’ to improve reef water quality. 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, some industrial activities and other intensive land uses. Further detail on the regulatory proposals can be found in the Consultation: Regulatory Impact Statement: Broadening and enhancing reef protection regulations.

Existing reef protection regulations Guide

In this guide:

  1. How does this impact cane farmers?
  2. How does this impact graziers?
  3. Impacts of nutrient and pesticide run-off from cane farming
  4. Impacts of sediment run-off from grazing
  5. Support programs and tools for cane farmers
  6. Support programs and tools for graziers
  7. Best management practice in reef catchments
  8. Managing agricultural chemicals
  9. Nutrient calculation and soil sampling