Stronger reef protections promised

QUEENSLAND’S first Minister for the Great Barrier Reef Steven Miles has vowed to strengthen protections to avoid the reef being listed as
Stronger reef protections promised Stronger reef protections promised Stronger reef protections promised Stronger reef protections promised Stronger reef protections promised

The Great Barrier Reef.

Jacqueline Ong

Miles, who was also named environment minister last week, said the state government was working out the details to tackle the amount of pollution flowing into the Great Barrier Reef.

The Labor government has promised to implement ambitious and strict targets to reduce pollution run-off, including reducing nitrogen run-off, by up to 80% in key catchments by 2025 and reduce total suspended sediment run-off by up to 50%.

To meet these targets, the government said it would invest an additional $100 million over five years, convene a high-level taskforce with representatives from regional communities, conservation organisations, industry groups and leading scientists and ban the sea dumping of capital dredge spoil within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Labor has also indicated that new regulations may be adopted.

"I don’t want to pre-empt any discussions but there are a range of levers available, from regulation to education to innovation and we’ll be looking to all of those to make sure it works,” Miles told Guardian Australia.

“It’s certainly a big job to achieve those ambitious targets and we need to find ways to do it. We are working out the details now. But we will work with all the stakeholders involved. We think there needs to be a substantial improvement in the quality of water running into the world heritage area. I don’t want to disparage previous efforts on this, but we want to really aggressively reduce run-off.”

UNESCO's world heritage committee will decide in June whether the reef should be listed as "in danger". Miles said he would ensure the government's reef policies were submitted to the UN this month.

“The in-danger listing is a real possibility, it’s something we’re concerned about. It’s not just the optics of it, but the fact the reef will actually be in danger. Our approach will be guided by the science to convince the scientists at the world heritage committee that we have a strong plan,” he said.