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First Report Card (2009 Baseline)

The Reef Water Quality Protection Plan (Reef Plan) First Report Card sets a baseline against which progress towards achieving Reef Plan (PDF, 2.39 MB) targets will be measured. The report card presents results up to 2009 and therefore does not include the more recent flood events which will be presented in subsequent reports.

The First Report Card was produced as part of the Paddock to Reef program.

Key findings

Released in August 2011, the results show the Great Barrier Reef is in moderate condition overall. There are some positive findings that demonstrate progress since the release of Reef Plan in 2003. However, the report also identifies some areas of concern that justify the ongoing commitment to improve water quality and build resilience of the reef.

Key results include:

  • Regional variability is evident – the Mackay Whitsunday area has poor seagrass results and inshore coral reefs in the Burdekin region are in poor condition.
  • High rainfall in the Great Barrier Reef catchment (particularly in the Burdekin and Fitzroy regions) between 2007 and 2009 has resulted in large flood plumes reaching marine waters.
  • Total catchment loads are five to nine times the natural loads for total suspended solids, nitrogen and phosphorus. This includes:
    • 14 million tonnes of sediment are washed into the Great Barrier Reef annually as a result of human activity
    • the annual load of dissolved nitrogen is 31,000 tonnes – this means potentially millions of dollars worth of fertiliser is being wasted
    • an estimated 28,000 kilograms of pesticides enter the reef annually.
  • Of all wetland types, vegetated freshwater swamps have had the greatest loss since European settlement (25 per cent). Loss of all types of wetlands between 2001 and 2005 was 883 hectares.

The First Report Card does not report on progress towards Reef Plan water quality or management practice targets. This will occur in subsequent report cards. As a complement to the First Report Card, the Interim Activity Report and Performance Outlook (PDF, 899 KB) provides a snapshot of progress to date in implementing Reef Plan actions and the results expected in future report cards.

For more information, view the joint media release from Tony Burke, Federal Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities and Vicky Darling, Queensland Minister for Environment.

First Report Card

Supporting reports

A range of reports contributed to the Technical Report:

Last updated:
27 August, 2014
Last reviewed:
15 November, 2011

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