Newsletter 3 -  May/June 2016
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Charlie Morgan, Rob Cocco, Di Tarte, Katrina Dent, Samarla Deshong

Update from the Chair:

The Partnership is gearing up for the release of our first full report card later this year – planned for late October.
Our priority is to improve on the pilot report card released in October 2015 by ensuring that we access all available data, co-invest in new work including with Traditional Owners, and identify priority gaps and how to address these. Some gaps will not be filled this year such as estuarine and marine fish indicators; this is a relatively new area for monitoring and so we are working with a range of partners, research institutions and government agencies to ensure we develop a methodology that is rigorous and can be used in other regions.
We are also working on a new website that will incorporate the data that underpins the report card and so make the results more accessible for anyone interested.
There’s a lot happening in the Mackay-Whitsunday region.  We hope that the following newsletter gives you a sense of all this good work.

Di Tarte
Chair, Mackay-Whitsunday Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership

In this edition

Partner profile - Mackay Regional Council

There’s a greater focus on water quality to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) now, than ever before and there’s never been a more concerted effort by all levels of government to ensure a high standard. Managing urban stormwater quality isn’t just about monitoring, as supervisor of the Waterways Team with Mackay Regional Council,
Luke Galea explained.  READ MORE HERE
Luke Galea keeps a close eye on water quality for Mackay

Filtering out the trash for cleaner waterways

In December 2015, forty-one litter basket Gross Pollutant Traps (GPT’s) were installed in Mackay’s CBD aimed at reducing rubbish and organic matter at stormwater drainage points, preventing it from entering Mackay’s Pioneer River. Targeted contaminants include wrappers, food packaging, aluminium cans, plastic bags and cigarette butts. This kind of litter, left unchecked, has the potential to damage and disrupt our valuable aquatic ecosystems. Mackay Regional Council engineer Roberto Da Silva developed an innovative, litter-catching device that will improve the health of Mackay’s waterways and marine environment. The devices are expected to capture a combined one cubic metre of litter per quarter, which will have huge benefits for the health of our waterways, river and coast. This project is a joint initiative of Mackay Regional Council and Reef Catchments, through funding from the Australian Government Reef Programme. View the full report here.

Technical reports ready for download

Details on the assessment methodologies and data for the pilot report card can be found in the technical reports that are now available for download. To ensure the validity of both the assessment methodology and the data used in the pilot report card, review by the Reef Plan Independent Science Panel (ISP) has been included at key points during the development of the report card. Specifically, the ISP has reviewed the assessment methodologies for all data included in the pilot report card and the accompanying technical reports.

David Attenborough's Reef 

The Future of the Reef -
Want to know how to save the Great Barrier Reef? Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg Director of the Global Change Institute UQ, explains why they set up a coral research project on Heron Island (off Gladstone Qld) and how "we still have time to act", saving corals for future generations of people and marine life... thanks to

Coral bleaching update: Mackay-Whitsunday

The mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef worsened during April due to prolonged heat stress, particularly in the far north above Cooktown. However, in early May surveys of reefs offshore of the Whitsundays and inshore reefs at the Keppel Islands detected only minor bleaching.
No bleaching-related coral mortality was detected. South of Mackay, only minor bleaching has been detected. No bleaching-related mortality has been recorded. Information on the full extent of bleaching is available at Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority website.

The final report

The Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce has handed down its final report on how to deliver clean water for a healthy Great Barrier Reef, with 10 key recommendations. The report provides advice on the best approach to meeting the Queensland Government’s ambitious reef water quality targets (to reduce nitrogen run-off by up to 80 per cent and sediment run-off by up to 50 per cent) and the priority areas for investing an additional $90 million.
Dr Geoff Garrett AO, Taskforce Chair and Queensland Chief Scientist, said there was no one tool or silver bullet to save the Great Barrier Reef. “A mix of tools are required including incentives, regulation and innovation. While we acknowledge the efforts to date, it is abundantly clear that more widespread and rapid action is required. Everyone including farmers, graziers, developers, the resources sector, community members, traditional owners and tourism operators must be part of the solution."
The final report makes 10 recommendations which focus on enhanced communication, increased levels of agricultural extension and innovation, expanded monitoring, financial and other incentives, and staged and targeted regulations.
The Queensland Government will consider the Taskforce's recommendations in full and will begin to implement some recommendations immediately. The final report is available on the Great Barrier Reef Living Wonder website 

Back to school

Marine Science students at Pioneer State High School are using the pilot report card to guide their year 11 work that compares Pioneer River and Reliance Creek.
To provide context, Healthy Rivers to Reef Project Support Officer, Emma Carlos spoke to the class about the key methods and results from the report card.
“Thank you very much for talking to my Year 11 OP Marine Science class today.  Your deciphering of the Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnerships 2014 report card was easy to understand and very helpful to all of my students.  They will find sourcing secondary data for their own assignments now much easier and relevant.  Actually seeing someone in the community working on the same topic was great as well. Hopefully our scientific data collection on the river will now be relevant as well as fun.”
Marine Science teacher at the Pioneer State High School.

If you are interested in incorporating the report card into a class in your school please get in touch at 





'Managing the Reef'

Information on the Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program is now live on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s website.  
The Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program brings together key monitoring programs across the Great Barrier Reef and catchment to track the progress of the Australian and Queensland governments’ Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan. 
Whether you're a keen fisherman, tourism operator, or invested stakeholder, to learn more about the role of the GBRMPA in reef management, Eye on the Reef app, whale season and Indigenous Partnerships go to their home page. 

Plastic Free July Challenge - are you game?

Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the amount of single-use disposable plastic in our lives and challenges people to do something about it. You can sign up for a day, a week or the whole month and try to refuse ALL single-use plastic or try the TOP 4: plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws.
The Partnership's Executive Officer, Charlie Morgan has taken on the challenge for 2016.
Last year over 36,000 people from 85 countries joined the challenge and we at the Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership are keen to see that number grow.  
It is estimated that 8 million tonnes of plastic enters the oceans every year where it can entangle and/or be ingested by wildlife. Our waterways and marine areas in the Mackay-Whitsunday region are spectacular and we'd like to keep them that way by supporting this initiative. Read more here and if you're up to the challenge sign on with Charlie to show your support 
REMEMBER everything you do has an impact - make it positive!

Getting technical

In preparation for the next report card, over the months of March and April, the Healthy Rivers to Reef Technical Working Group has been busy reviewing the program design and methodology used in the pilot report card. This has involved five thematic workshops that focussed on reviewing and progressing indicators relating to water quality, habitat and hydrology, social and economic and marine and estuarine fish. The outcomes of these workshops will mean improvements in the data capture, analysis and presentation in future report cards.

North Queensland Bulk Ports leading the way

'Working Group 175' visit Hay Point
Kev Kane, from North Queensland Bulk Ports, with nine other representatives from Europe, the US and Australia, has taken on the task of writing a practical guide for environmental risk management for navigational infrastructure projects. The group, known as ‘Working Group 175’ have visited ports around the world, to gather case studies and learn from the trials and tribulations experienced by those in the industry.
The group visited the Port of Hay Point to learn about port management alongside the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef.  With most of the world’s developed cities situated near a commercial port, and trade by sea a vital part of society, this guideline is a valuable step towards ensuring the demands of society are met into the future while successfully managing environmental risk.

                   MRFA continues to kick goals                            

Former Mayor of Mackay Regional Council Deirdre Comerford presents the award 

Mackay Recreational Fishers Alliance (MRFA) have won the Mackay Regional Council 2016 Australia Day Environmental Achievement Award. Mackay Recreational Fishers Alliance (MRFA) involves recreational fishers, dedicated to promoting and improving recreational fishing in our local Mackay region. Our Angler Education division volunteer their time to educate local children about sustainable and responsible fishing practices.

Beefing up the Partnership

Another opportunity to share the Partnership message has been identified. More than 110 graziers keen to adopt best management practice attended the Reef Catchments Grazing Forum 2016. Industry leaders of innovation, on farm trials, market opportunities, genetics and new pasture varieties presented up to date information on the seasonal outlook, biosecurity, soil erosion, with the forum ending with a presentation on the Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership and key messages from the pilot report card. A field day following the forum was held in a grazing paddock on Jensens Rd, Farleigh. The property had previously been under cane, however the transition to pasture had been managed successfully and drew a crowd keen to hear expert insight into supporting the soil for optimum growth and nutrition. View the full story here.

Get involved

We are constantly seeking support from new members to continue the great work that the Partners have undertaken so far. Do you know someone who, like you, is keen to be part of the solution for a brighter future? Partners are organisations or groups that have an interest in maintaining, and where necessary improving the health of the waterways in the Mackay-Whitsunday region. They can be from the community, Traditional Owners, farmers and fishers, industry, science, tourism and government. For further information on becoming a member or to request a copy of the Value Proposition statement, please forward your details to
For more information about the Partnership, its work and the benefits of becoming a member please visit our website


Please help us spread the word about the Partnership and all the great work we are achieving by forwarding this newsletter on to your colleagues and networks. The more people involved the better! 
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