Monitoring efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef

The Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan (Reef 2050 Plan) is the Australian and Queensland governments' overarching framework for protecting and managing the Great Barrier Reef. The Reef Water Quality Protection Plan delivers actions under the water quality theme.

A key component of the Reef 2050 Plan is establishing the Reef Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program (RIMReP) for the reef and its adjacent catchments. The program will provide a comprehensive and up-to-date understanding of the reef including its condition.

It will track progress towards the Reef 2050 targets and objectives under the Plan’s seven themes. The program includes short-to-medium term response monitoring, long-term monitoring, compliance monitoring and citizen science monitoring.

Existing programs

The following monitoring programs will form the basis of the RIMReP:

  • The Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program integrates monitoring and modelling from the paddock, catchment and marine areas, including the inshore Marine Monitoring Program.
  • The Great Barrier Reef Zoning Monitoring Program assesses the effectiveness of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan – the primary management tool for protecting and conserving the reef's biodiversity. Carried out by James Cook University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, it integrates monitoring of benthic communities and fish populations from inshore, mid-shelf and offshore reefs.
  • The Australian Institute of Marine Science's Long-Term Monitoring Program started in 1985 and reports on the condition and trend in coral reef benthic communities and fish populations.


RIMReP will coordinate, align and integrate existing programs to capitalise on investment, improve efficiency and avoid duplication. It will also prioritise gaps in data. Ultimately, the program will deliver monitoring, modelling and reporting across the Great Barrier Reef and its catchment and report on the delivery of Reef 2050 actions.

Through integration, data collected once can be used many times for nested reporting. It will inform the five-yearly Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report, which reports on the condition and trend of the reef's values, threats and risk to the reef's health and resilience, and the effectiveness of actions. The Outlook Report will be the main report that evaluates the success of the Reef 2050 Plan.

The data will also inform the annual Reef Water Quality Protection Plan Report Card. This report assesses the health of the inshore marine environment and progress towards water quality and management practice targets.

In addition, the data will feed into regional waterway health report cards which provide a finer level of information on the health of local catchments and waterways for local communities.