Skip links and keyboard navigation

Fitzroy summary

The Fitzroy’s overall inshore marine condition remained poor in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. Inshore water quality and inshore seagrass meadows also remained poor in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. Coral reefs declined from poor in 2010-2011 to very poor in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.

Fitzroy marine condition graph

On this page:


Fitzroy snapshot

A standardised scoring system was developed for each of the key indicators in the report card. The scoring system is used to assess and communicate progress towards the management practice and catchment targets as well as current marine condition using the following categories:

Results—colour coding
Very goodGoodModerate
PoorVery Poor 

Management practices

Grazing Grains Horticulture
Proportion of graziers who adopted improved practices between 2009 and 2013.
Target: 50 per cent by 2013
Proportion of growers who adopted improved practices between 2009 and 2013.
Target: 80 per cent by 2013
Proportion of producers who adopted improved practices between 2009 and 2013.
Target: 80 per cent by 2013
Grazing 28% Sugarcane 39% Horticulture 42%

Catchment indicators

Groundcover Nitrogen Sediment Pesticides
Late dry season
groundcover as
at 2012–2013.
Target: 50 per cent by 2013.
Reduction in
annual average
total nitrogen
load between
2009 and 2013.
Target: 50 per cent
Reduction in
annual average
sediment load
between 2009
and 2013.
Target: 20 per cent by 2020
Reduction in
annual average
pesticide load
between 2009
and 2013.
Target: 50 per cent by 2013
Groundcover 84% Nitrogen 3% Sediment 4% Pesticides 5%

Management practices

Grazing

Grazing 28% - Moderate resultTarget: 50 per cent by 2013.
From 2009 to 2013, 28 per cent of graziers (1,008) are known to have adopted improved land management practices, up from 23 per cent (854) to June 2012.

There are 3,666 graziers managing 126,880 square kilometres of land in the Fitzroy region.

By June 2013, 60 per cent of graziers were using (A or B) practice systems that are likely to maintain land in good to very good condition or improve land in lesser condition, up from 56 per cent in June 2012.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Of the 1,008 graziers who implemented improved practices, 433 completed Reef Rescue Water Quality Grants projects facilitated by the Fitzroy Basin Association. A further 362 graziers completed relevant training through AgForward, private sector consultants (supported by the FarmReady program) and the Queensland Government (supported by the Reef Rescue program). Approximately 137 graziers adopted improved management practices through participation in targeted extension projects implemented by the Queensland Government and the Fitzroy Basin Association.

Horticulture

Horticulture 42% - Moderate resultTarget: 80 per cent by 2013.
From 2009 to 2013, 42 per cent of horticulture producers (44) are known to have adopted improved land management practices, up from 32 per cent (34) to June 2012.

There are 106 horticulture producers managing 76 square kilometres of land in the Fitzroy region.

By June 2013, cutting-edge (A) or best management (B) systems were used by 42 per cent of horticulture producers for nutrients, 69 per cent for herbicides and 75 per cent for soil. This was up from 42 per cent for nutrients, 68 per cent for herbicides and 72 per cent for soil in June 2012.

All 44 producers who implemented improved practices did so with the support of Reef Rescue Water Quality Grants, facilitated by the Fitzroy Basin Association and the Growcom Farm Management System (FMS) program. A total of 19 completed nutrient management projects, 22 completed herbicide management projects and 21 completed soil management projects.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Industry-wide management system adoption is estimated using the proportions established through the Growcom FMS in each region, and expressed as the percentage of growers with A, B, C or D management systems.

It is important to note that the level of grower participation in the program has increased year by year. As the proportion of the grower population represented in the program increases, so the distribution of A, B, C or D management systems changes over time as a reflection of the larger and more representative sample size. Early participants in the program have often been relatively progressive landholders, and this is apparent in terms of relatively high proportions of A and B in the management system distribution in early years. Increasing program participation over time can have the effect of diluting the percentage of growers in the A and B categories over time. This is not to be seen as a regression of farm management systems.

Grains

Grains 39% - Poor resultTarget: 80 per cent by 2013.
From 2009 to 2013, 39 per cent of grain growers (235) are known to have adopted improved land management practices, up from 27 per cent (161) to June 2012. It should be noted the majority of growers in the industry were already at or very close to best practice status at the commencement of Reef Plan 2009.

There are 600 grain growers managing 9146 square kilometres of land in the Fitzroy region.

By June 2013, cutting-edge (A) or best management (B) systems were used by 89 per cent of grain growers for nutrients, 81 per cent for herbicides and 84 per cent for soil. This was up from 87 per cent for nutrients, 74 per cent for herbicides and 76 per cent for soil in June 2012.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

All 235 growers who implemented improved practices did so with the support of the Reef Rescue program. This included 70 growers who improved nutrient management practices, 130 growers that improved soil management practices and 213 growers who improved herbicide management practices.

An absence of data sources and systems to collect data on improved practice adoption outside of the Grains Best Management Program and Reef Rescue program means this is likely to be a conservative estimate of improved practices.

Catchment indicators

Groundcover

Groundcover 84% - Very good resultTarget: 50 per cent by 2013.
Late dry season mean groundcover for the grazing lands of the Fitzroy region was high (84 per cent by both June 2012 and June 2013). The 26-year mean groundcover was 79 per cent.

Mean groundcover in the Fitzroy region is mainly influenced by the Fitzroy catchment which constitutes 95 per cent of the reporting area.

Groundcover results for Fitzroy region and catchments
Catchment/ region 26-year mean groundcover (%) 2012 mean groundcover (%) 2013 mean groundcover (%) Area with less than 50% groundcover averaged over past 26 years (%) Area with less than 50% groundcover in 2012 (%) Area with less than 50% groundcover in 2013 (%)
Boyne 85 90 95 0.4 0.2 0.2
Calliope 84 91 94 0.6 0.4 0.4
Fitzroy 78 84 83 3.4 0.5 0.7
Shoalwater 84 88 93 1.6 0.5 0.1
Styx 82 90 92 2.6 0.2 0.1
Water Park 84 88 94 0.9 0.5 0.3
Fitzroy region 79 84 84 3.3 0.5 0.7

Groundcover changes over time

Mean annual late dry season groundcover in the Fitzroy region fluctuates considerably over time. For example, groundcover was as low as 69 per cent in 1994 whilst the highest groundcover level was 90 per cent in 2011.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Declines in mean groundcover correspond with increases in the area with groundcover under 50 per cent. These declines also correspond to below mean rainfall in preceding years. For example, in both 1994 and 1995, the area with groundcover below 50 per cent was 10.3 per cent and mean annual rainfall had been declining since 1989. Mean annual rainfall was well below average between 1992 and 1995. The mean annual rainfall in 1994 was 437 millimetres, more than 200 millimetres lower than the region’s mean annual rainfall of 670 millimetres over the past 26 years.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)


Catchment pollutant loads

Nitrogen

Nitrogen 3% - Very poor resultTarget: 50 per cent by 2013.
The estimated annual average total nitrogen load leaving catchments reduced by three per cent (30 tonnes) by June 2013, up from two per cent (21 tonnes) by June 2012.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus 6% - Very poor resultTarget: 50 per cent by 2013.
The estimated annual average total phosphorus load leaving catchments reduced by six per cent (37 tonnes) by June 2013, up from four per cent (27 tonnes) by June 2012.

Pesticides

Pesticides 5% - Very poor resultTarget: 50 per cent by 2013.
The estimated annual average pesticide load leaving catchments reduced by five per cent (29 kilograms) by June 2013, up from four per cent (23 kilograms) by June 2012. This does not include pesticide reductions from improved grazing practices.

Sediment

Sediment 4% - Poor resultTarget: 20 per cent by 2020.
The estimated annual average suspended sediment load leaving catchments reduced by four per cent (59,700 tonnes) by June 2013, up from three per cent (44,800 tonnes) by June 2012.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Note:

  • Dissolved inorganic nitrogen reductions are only modelled for regions with significant sugarcane areas.
  • Land management changes in the horticulture and grains industry have not been modelled.

Marine

Water quality

Inshore water quality (assessed by remote sensing of chlorophyll a and suspended solids) in the Fitzroy region remained poor in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. Changes in inshore water quality have been driven by relatively larger fluctuations in chlorophyll a compared to total suspended solids.

Chlorophyll a was rated as very poor in both 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.  In 2012-2013, concentrations exceeded the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Water Quality Guidelines for 97 and 85 per cent of the inshore area in the dry and wet season, respectively. Total suspended solids were rated as moderate in 2011-2012 and 201-2013. However, concentrations exceeded the guidelines for 53 and 55 per cent of the inshore area in the dry and wet season, respectively, in 2012-2013.

Trend in the Water Quality Index from 2011-2012 to 2012-2013. The Water Quality Index is also separated into component scores for concentrations of chlorophyll a and total suspended solids. Trend data is only shown for these two years, because a major change in the remote sensing algorithms mean the historical data is no longer directly comparable. The full historical time-series will be reprocessed for the next report card.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Water quality across the region showed a clear gradient of improvement from inshore areas more frequently exposed to flood waters to offshore areas. This gradient was supported by long-term assessments of water quality at specific sites, with variability between sites reflecting local hydrodynamic conditions and biophysical processes.

Site-specific water quality was poor at Pelican Island, good at Humpy Island and very good at Barren Island, reflecting increasing distance away from river influence. At Pelican Island, the Great Barrier Reef Water Quality Guidelines were generally exceeded for all variables except for particulate nitrogen in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. The water quality scores are a long-term integrative assessment based on four indicators of water quality relative to the Great Barrier Reef Water Quality Guidelines (GBRMPA, 2010).

Scores for site-specific water quality and pesticides at fixed monitoring sites in the Fitzroy region.

Concentrations of photosystem II (PSII) herbicides were above those known to affect photosynthesis in diatoms (Category 4) at North Keppel Island. However, when the concentration of individual pesticides was examined at North Keppel Island, only tebuthiuron exceeded the Great Barrier Reef Water Quality Guidelines and the ANZECC and ARMCANZ Interim Working Level for marine waters. The range of pesticides detected in the Fitzroy region included atrazine and its breakdown products, diuron, hexazinone, simazine, ametryn, prometryn, metolachlor and tebuthiuron.

Seagrass

The condition of inshore seagrass in the Fitzroy region remained poor in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, driven largely by a decline in seagrass reproduction to very poor.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Seagrass meadows were monitored at coastal, estuarine and fringing reef locations in the Fitzroy region. Key environmental drivers in the region include exposure at very low tide and high turbidity. Seagrass abundance remained relatively stable across habitats and was rated poor overall in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. Reproductive effort was very poor, suggesting a low capacity to recover from disturbance. The nutrient status of seagrass tissue was moderate overall and variations between habitats reflected differences in nutrient and light availability.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Coral

The overall condition of inshore coral reefs in the Fitzroy region declined from poor in 2010-2011 to very poor in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. The influence of flooding on water quality has contributed to the decline in coral reef condition.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Coral cover declined to very poor across the Fitzroy region in 2012-2013. The rate of change in coral cover and the density of juveniles were both very poor in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, while macroalgae remained poor. Exposure to low salinity flood waters from the Fitzroy River in 2011 caused a marked reduction in coral cover and juvenile densities down to at least two metres depth on reefs inshore of Great Keppel Island. Elsewhere, recovery from coral bleaching in 2006 and periodic storms has been compromised by a persistent bloom of macroalgae, high levels of disease and low densities of juvenile corals, all linked to the influence of flooding.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Average cover of hard corals, cover of macroalgae and density of hard coral juveniles in the Fitzroy region from 2005 to 2013.

Graph data (.csv, 1KB)

Last updated:
31 March, 2015
Last reviewed:
5 September, 2014

Rate this page

  1. How useful was the information on this page?
  2. If you would like a response please include your email address or a contact number. Comments containing web links will not be sent.

Please remove any 'http://' first