WWF-Australia has welcomed the opening of a $5 million Reef Trust Tender to reduce farm pollution in the Wet Tropics.
“Any effort to help farmers cut chemical pollution is a positive step,” WWF-Australia spokesperson Sean Hoobin said.
“The project targets the highest risk area and the highest risk pollutant.
“We agree with Minister Hunt that farm chemicals can feed waves of Starfish plagues.
“Without recent Starfish plagues, we’d have more than double the coral cover we currently have, according to AIMS research.
“Investing in better farm practices delivers results that’s why we need to scale up our support to farmers,” he said.
While the 2013 Reef Report Card estimated that nutrient pollution had been reduced by 10% this was well short of the governments’ own target of 50% cuts by 2013 (now pushed back to 2018 and highly unlikely to be achieved by then).
A scientific literature review prepared for WWF-Australia found the 50% target was too low.
To achieve the aim that water from catchments has no detrimental impact on the Reef, the review found that fertiliser pollution needed to be reduced by 70 to 80% in the Wet Tropics and Burdekin regions.
“Reaching these reductions is a challenge and farmers need more support to achieve the sort of pollution cuts that will save the Reef,” Mr Hoobin said.
Image Source: Sugar cane fields near Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia. © Tanya Petersen / WWF-Canon