The Reef protection regulations are being strengthened to address land-based sources of water pollution flowing to the Great Barrier Reef. This includes agricultural and industrial sources of nutrient and sediment pollution from all six Reef regions—Cape York, Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary.
The new regulations started on 1 December 2019 and will be rolled out over the next three years in different regions based on improved water quality management priorities (see the timeframes).
Complete this information request form to request more information about the Reef protection regulations.
Download a printable fact sheet with this information.
The requirements under the new Reef protection regulations are:
All graziers, sugarcane and banana producers in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions must keep records from 1 December 2019 and all grains and horticulture producers must keep records from 1 December 2022.
Agricultural advisers must also keep records from 1 December 2019.
Records need to be kept to demonstrate activities are being undertaken on the property in accordance with the minimum practice agricultural standards.
The government has committed to not commencing the regulation to acquire specific agricultural data from the broader agricultural sector, such as data about fertiliser and chemical use, soil testing and crop yield.
Minimum practice agricultural standards
Primary producers in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions will need to comply with industry specific minimum practice agricultural standards. These have been developed for sugarcane, grazing and bananas at this stage, and take effect for different commodities in different regions over the next three years (see the timeframes).
The Queensland Government has made a commitment that the minimum practice agricultural standards will remain substantially unchanged for the next five years (i.e. until 1 December 2024).
Minimum practice agricultural standards for grains and horticulture production have not yet been developed and will not come into effect for three years.
Farm nitrogen and phosphorus budget (sugarcane only)
All sugarcane producers in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay Whitsunday regions must have a farm nitrogen and phosphorus budget from 2021 and then in the Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions from 2022.
New or expanded cropping and horticulture activities
New or expanded cropping and horticulture activities in any Reef region on more than five hectares that do not meet the cropping history test will require an environmental authority (permit), subject to farm design standards, from 1 June 2020.
New, expanded or intensified industrial land use activities
New, expanded or intensified regulated industrial land use activities such as sewage and water treatment plants, land-based aquaculture or mining in any Reef region must meet new discharge standards to ensure there is no increase in nutrient or sediment pollutant loads from 1 December 2020.
Producers are invited to attend drop-in sessions which are being held in coming months across the Reef regions. These informal sessions are an opportunity for producers to talk with Queensland Government staff about the new requirements. You can drop in at any point during the session.
Information on the dates and location of further sessions in 2019 and 2020 will be regularly updated.
|Tully||13 November 2019||2pm–7pm||CWA Hall – 5 Plumb Street, Tully|
|Innisfail||14 November 2019||2pm–7pm||Disaster Management Public Education and Training Centre, |
11 Flying Fish Point Road, Innisfail
|Charters Towers||19 November 2019||2pm–7pm||Arthur Titley Centre, 101 Mosman Street, Charters Towers|
|Mackay||28 November 2019||2pm–7pm|
Blue Room, Mackay Resort Motel
|Ingham||3 December 2019||2pm–7pm|
Jacana Room, TYTO Conference and Event Centre
|Rockhampton||5 December 2019||2pm–7pm||Capricorn Motel and Conference Centre, 703-751 Yaamba Road, Parkhurst|
|Ayr||10 December 2019||2pm–7pm||Burdekin Theatre Music Loft, 161 Queen St, Ayr|
|Bundaberg||12 December 2019||2pm–7pm|
Stan Lohse Function Room, Fairymead House
There are six Reef regions – Cape York, Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary. Refer to the map below.
Enter your property lot and plan number/s into the Reef regulatory requirements map to find out if you are operating in a Reef region.
Why is the Cape York region excluded from most of the new requirements?
Most of the new requirements do not apply to existing producers in the Cape York region as the region has met its water quality targets.
However, from 1 June 2020, any new or expanded commercial cropping and horticulture activities in the Cape York region on more than five hectares that do not meet the cropping history test will require an environmental authority (permit) before the activity or work takes place.
Support for producers
Programs and support tools are provided by the Australian and Queensland governments and industry organisations to help primary producers adopt improved farming practices, where required. These include best management practice programs, extension services and a Farming in Reef Catchments Rebate Scheme.
The compliance program is prioritising its efforts on the areas that represent the greatest water quality threat to the Reef.
Compliance officers from the Department of Environment and Science will meet with producers to help them understand what is required under the minimum practice agricultural standards.
While the officers aim to work with producers to meet the requirements, the department will respond to ongoing non-compliance in accordance with its Enforcement Guidelines.
For more information, please refer to the Department of Environment and Science compliance and enforcement information.
Complete this information request form if you would like to receive an information pack by email or post. You can also choose to receive regular updates relating to the Reef protection regulations.
- Decision Regulatory Impact Statement—February 2019
- Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement—September 2017
|Commodity||Region||Record keeping requirements||Minimum practice agricultural standards||Farm nitrogen and phosphorus budget (sugarcane only)||New or expanded cropping activities|
|Sugarcane||Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay Whitsunday||1 December 2019||1 December 2019||1 December 2021||1 June 2020|
|Sugarcane||Fitzroy and Burnett Mary||1 December 2019||1 December 2022||1 December 2022||1 June 2020|
|Sugarcane||Cape York||N/A||N/A||N/A||1 June 2020|
|Grazing||Burdekin||1 December 2019||1 December 2020||N/A||N/A|
|Grazing||Fitzroy||1 December 2019||1 December 2021||N/A||N/A|
|Grazing||Wet Tropics, Mackay Whitsunday and Burnett Mary||1 December 2019||1 December 2022||N/A||N/A|
|Bananas||Wet Tropics||1 December 2019||1 December 2020||N/A||1 June 2020|
|Bananas||Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary||1 December 2019||1 December 2022||N/A||1 June 2020|
|Bananas||Cape York||N/A||N/A||N/A||1 June 2020|
|Grains||Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary||Proposed 1 December 2022||Proposed 1 December 2022||N/A||1 June 2020|
|Grains||Cape York||N/A||N/A||N/A||1 June 2020|
|Horticulture||Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary||Proposed 1 December 2022||Proposed 1 December 2022||N/A||1 June 2020|
|Horticulture||Cape York||N/A||N/A||N/A||1 June 2020|
New or changed regulated industrial land use activities will be required to meet new discharge standards from 1 December 2020.