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Great Barrier Reef Foundation reinstates critical water quality monitoring program in Fitzroy

Great Barrier Reef Foundation reinstates critical water quality monitoring program in Fitzroy

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation through the Australian Government funded Reef Trust Partnership is improving the quality of our Reef’s water by reinstating critical monitoring activities as part of the Marine Monitoring Program for Inshore Water Quality in the high priority Fitzroy Basin.

Delivered in partnership with the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), this monitoring program, is one of more than 100 Reef-saving projects the Foundation has in progress right now.

Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden said, “Our Reef is an irreplaceable ecosystem, but poorer water quality is one of a growing combination of threats to its health.

“Previous monitoring has highlighted that the Fitzroy is a high priority catchment for water quality improvement as it is a major source of excess sediment to local inshore waters which can have a negative impact to the marine life,” Ms Marsden said.

“A healthy Reef needs healthy water, so it’s critical that we’re monitoring water quality in this area.

“Right now, graziers and land managers in the Fitzroy region are helping us to keep 50,000 tonnes of sediment from running off into the Reef’s waters every year, through our $19.6 million regional water quality improvement program.

“By reinstating this marine monitoring program, we’ll be able to see exactly how our investments into gully control and streambank rehabilitation already underway through our program in the Fitzroy are helping to improve the quality of water in the area and to reach the targets set out by the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.”

AIMS oceanographer Dr Renee Gruber said, “Given the Fitzroy was the largest basin on Australia’s east coast, the Program was important to understanding the whole story of water quality on the Great Barrier Reef.

“AIMS has monitored water quality on the inshore Great Barrier Reef for 15 years. We measure regularly and over long periods of time to understand the short and long-term changes in coastal waters,” Dr Gruber said.

“Our water quality team will monitor several sites between the Fitzroy River mouth and North Keppel Island to track the condition and trend of inshore water quality.

“The team will collect water samples, as well as use a network of underwater loggers to measure sediment and nutrients in coastal waters and other important factors such as water clarity to understand the conditions experienced by seagrasses and corals in the area.”

Capricorn Conservation Council and the Capricorn Coast Local Marine Advisory Committee have been asking for the reinstatement of the Fitzroy Basin Marine Monitoring Program for Inshore Water Quality since the original buoys were removed in 2015.

The Coordinator of Capricorn Conservation Council Dr Coral Rowston said, “We are absolutely delighted to have the long-term water quality monitoring program reinstated here on the Capricorn Coast.

“The Fitzroy is the largest of the catchments draining into the Great Barrier Reef with its sediment discharges extending as far as the Capricorn-Bunker reefs and northwards to the Whitsundays – a significant area of the Great Barrier Reef,” Dr Rowston said.

“It is essential that we know the sediment and nutrient levels entering the inshore environment from this catchment so that we can fully understand the impact our land-based activities are having on the reef and take steps to reduce or remove these pressures.”

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, through its Reef Trust Partnership with the Australian Government, has invested $1.6 million into the Fitzroy Basin Marine Monitoring Program for Inshore Water Quality over the next four years.