Report condemns State Government’s water quality plan

THE Fitzroy region's coral reefs have been given the worst health rating possible by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

GBRMPA's Marine Monitoring Report deemed Fitzroy as very poor and the Mackay-Whitsunday coral reefs as moderate.

The Queensland Audit Office noted the recent assessment in a scathing report about the State Government's plan to tackle poor quality water entering the reef from catchments.

The 2014/15 Managing Water Quality in Great Barrier Reef Catchments report tabled in parliament on Wednesday questioned whether the Great Barrier Reef Report Card UNESCO relied upon when it made its draft decision to not list the reef as in danger was in fact truthful.

The Auditor-General said the June 2014 report card's statement that the goal to halt and reverse the decline in water quality entering the reef had been achieved should "be treated with caution".

Public reporting on water quality monitoring and modelling was described as "lacking transparency at best, and being misleading at worst".

The Auditor-General said this was because the annual report cards did not openly report the inherent limitations, assumptions and error bands associated with reef plan monitoring and modelling.

WWF-Australia said the report showed Australians and UNESCO were being misled about the reef and called for the Auditor-General's recommendations to be implemented.

The QAO also found Queensland's response to the water quality issue lacked urgency and purpose.

The Auditor-General found land management practice programs were not achieving the changes needed and recent relaxation of land clearing rules increased the risk of sediment run-off, working against the reef plan's goals.

- APN Newsdesk



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