Report card 2019

Interactive report card

Fully explore the results through the interactive report card or read the summary (PDF, 441.6KB) .


The Reef Water Quality Report Card 2019 details progress towards the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan targets up to June 2019.

While climate change remains the greatest threat to the Reef, improving the quality of water flowing from the land to the sea is critical to supporting the Reef’s health and resilience through reducing additional pressures.

There has been encouraging progress, particularly at a regional and catchment level, with improved practices leading to pollutant reductions. This is directly due to landholders investing time and resources in programs that are delivering productivity, profitability and water quality benefits. However, increased uptake of land management practices is required to meet the water quality targets.

The results are also considered a conservative estimate of progress as projects are in different stages of implementation so not all activities undertaken during the reporting period are captured.

The report card draws on multiple lines of evidence including industry and extension programs. Science underpins the report card with all results reviewed by the Independent Science Panel.

Key results

  • Modelling showed there was very good progress towards the dissolved inorganic nitrogen target across the Great Barrier Reef catchment with an annual reduction of 4.3%. The greatest reductions were in the Wet Tropics (7.4%) and Burdekin (4.5%) regions. The Herbert catchment (Wet Tropics region) had the greatest annual reduction (9.4%).
  • There was good progress in reducing fine sediment loads in the Mary catchment (Burnett Mary region), with a 1.3% modelled annual reduction due to targeted investment in fencing to exclude cattle from waterways.
  • The Burdekin and Wet Tropics regions recorded the largest increase in best practice nutrient management for sugarcane, up 6.3% and 6.1% respectively. Improved nutrient management was delivered through the Queensland Government Nitrogen Project and the Australian Government Reef Trust: Reef Alliance Growing a Great Barrier Reef project.
  • The Kolan catchment (Burnett Mary region) met the pesticide target (to protect at least 99% of aquatic species) in 2018-2019. The Pioneer catchment (Mackay Whitsunday region) recorded the greatest improvement (up 4.5%) with 80.5% of aquatic species protected from the harmful effects from pesticides.
  • The proportion of grazing land across the Great Barrier Reef catchments with adequate ground cover to reduce erosion was 58%, below the target of 90% with many areas continuing to be drought declared.
  • Overall inshore marine condition remained poor in 2018-2019, with coral and seagrass in poor condition and water quality rated moderate. The Wet Tropics and Burnett Mary regions were in moderate condition overall and the Cape York, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday and Fitzroy regions were in poor condition overall.

Fully explore the results through the interactive report card.

A series of supporting case studies highlight progress towards the human dimension target of increasing the active engagement of communities and land managers in programs to improve water quality outcomes. Baseline social monitoring data will be included in the next report card.

Information about how the key indicators were measured is available in the Methods section.

For more information, read the frequently asked questions.