AP Photo - Queensland Tourism

Review finds holes in reef management

THE run-off of agricultural sediment on to the Great Barrier Reef is still "largely ungoverned" and there is little known about how much money is needed to tackle the problem, an independent review has found.

A review of the legal management arrangements for the reef was given to the federal Environment Department earlier this month.

Part of efforts to address the UNESCO World Heritage Committee's concerns about the reef, it has found several holes in the management of the reef.

Among them, the run-off of nitrogen-rich sediments from farms in the Burdekin and Fitzroy catchments on to the reef was "largely ungoverned" by the current regulations.

WWF Australia spokesman Sean Hoobin said voluntary schemes to reduce run-off were helping some "willing farmers to reduce pollution".

But, he said, more needed to be done to get those not involved in programs like Reef Rescue, including regulating "minimum standards".

Citing a 2013 Scientific Consensus statement on the reef, it also said even achieving "best management practice alone may not be enough" to achieve the targets of the Reef 2050 targets.

While a report on the status of the reef earlier this year found some improvements in water quality in the southern GBR, it pointed to a need for more investment, backed by the independent Jacobs report.

"There is little information available to assess the level of investment that will be required to achieve the desired response," the Jacobs report reads.

The report also found that water quality, coastal development including ports and climate change remained the three greatest threats to the reef's future.


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