Marine condition 2013-2014
It will take time for marine condition to show improvements as there are significant time lags between implementation of land management practices and measurable outcomes in these natural systems. Inshore marine condition is also strongly influenced by severe weather events, such as tropical cyclones and floods, which have impacted all regions in recent years. Confidence in the marine results for Cape York and the Burnett Mary remains low due to limited data availability and validation. Consequently, data from these regions is not used in the Great Barrier Reef-wide assessment.
This section focuses mainly on the inshore area of the Great Barrier Reef. Water quality at mid and outer shelf sites is generally good to very good overall because it is less directly influenced by river discharge.
About the indicators
Remote sensed water quality
Chlorophyll a indicates nutrient availability and productivity.
Total suspended solids is an indicator of particulate matter in water.
Seagrass abundance includes the cover and change in cover.
Reproduction indicates the potential of seagrass meadows to recover from disturbances.
Nutrient status is a measure of the response of seagrass to nutrient conditions in surrounding waters.
Coral cover is a measure of the percentage of coral across reefs, and indicates the capacity of coral to persist under the current environmental conditions and its potential to recover.
Coral change measures change in coral cover and indicates coral resilience to disturbance.
Macroalgal cover - high abundance indicates poor water quality and negatively affects the resilience of coral communities.
Coral juvenile density measures the abundance of corals less than 10 centimetres in diameter which indicates the recovery potential from disturbances.
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 catchment targets using the following categories:
|Poor||Very poor||No data|
Further details on the scoring system (PDF, 596K) for each indicator are outlined in the supporting technical information.
Great Barrier Reef
The overall condition of the inshore marine environment remained poor in 2013-2014. Inshore seagrass showed signs of recovery at locations that were relatively free from disturbances in recent years, but remained in poor condition overall. Inshore coral reefs have continued to improve since 2011-2012 when their condition reached its lowest point due to impacts by repeated disturbances. However, they remained in poor condition overall.
The overall marine condition was poor in 2013-2014. Inshore seagrass remained in poor condition. Coral monitoring is not assessed through the Marine Monitoring Program, however other data for the southern section of this region indicates that coral communities were in relatively good condition.
The overall marine condition remained poor in 2013-2014. Inshore seagrass was in poor condition, whereas coral reefs improved from poor to moderate condition.
The overall marine condition improved from poor to moderate in 2013-2014. Inshore seagrass improved from poor to moderate, while coral reefs remained in poor condition with early signs of recovery.
The overall marine condition remained poor in 2013-2014. Inshore seagrass improved from very poor to poor condition. Inshore coral reefs remained in moderate condition.
The overall marine condition remained poor in 2013-2014. Inshore seagrass remained in poor condition. Coral reefs have remained in very poor condition since 2011-2012 following multiple disturbances.
The overall marine condition remained poor in 2013-2014. Inshore seagrass improved from very poor to poor condition. No coral monitoring occurs in the Burnett Mary region through the Marine Monitoring Program.
Between 2006 and 2014, repeated disturbances (extreme weather events) have had a considerable and widespread impact on the water quality and ecosystem health of the inshore area.
- Two tropical cyclones traversed parts of the reef: Tropical Cyclone Dylan (Category 2) which made landfall between Bowen and Proserpine and Tropical Cyclone Ita (Category 4) which made landfall north of Cooktown.
- There were few floods as the level of rainfall in the reef catchment was low to average. However, Tropical Cyclone Ita caused some flooding in the Wet Tropics, mainly from the Herbert River.
Cape York and the Wet Tropics had near average river discharges and monitored loads of sediment and nitrogen. All other regions had significantly lower than average discharge which resulted in markedly below average monitored sediment and nitrogen loads. The highest pesticide loads were from the Wet Tropics and Mackay Whitsunday regions. Note: pesticides are not monitored in Cape York.
The long-term trends in key coral and seagrass resilience indicators show the cumulative impacts of multiple disturbances on the reef in recent years.