Protecting the Great Barrier Reef

Reef Water Quality Protection Plan

Reef Plan’s long term goal is to ensure that by 2020 the quality of water entering the reef from broad-scale land use has no detrimental impact on the health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.”  

In the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan 2013 summary it explains that –

“Over the past 100 years, the land catchment areas adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area have undergone extensive development for agricultural production, urban expansion, transport infrastructure, tourism and mining.This has led to elevated levels of pollutants leaving these catchments and entering the reef, with the largest contributor being agricultural land use activities.  

To address this, the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan was endorsed by the Prime Minister and Queensland Premier in October 2003. Building on existing government programs and community initiatives, Reef Plan resulted in a more coordinated and cooperative approach to improving water quality.” 

Blue Hand Steam supports the new Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan’s Vision for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area:

Blue Hand Steam is a member of the Wet Tropics Healthy Waterways Partnership and collaborates with key partners to progress the objectives and targets of the Reef Protection Plan and the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan by promoting the use of steam weeding technology as an environmentally friendly chemical free weed management solution to significantly reduce the amount of chemical herbicides entering the water catchments leading into the Great Barrier Reef.

The most widely used chemical herbicide in Australia

“Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used herbicide. Glyphosate-based herbicides are manufactured by many companies in many countries.” PANAP Pesticide Action Network Asia & The Pacific November 2009.

Australian Study

Recently on the 30th August 2014 the first study of glyphosate persistence in seawater, found that glyphosate, the most widely used chemical herbicide in Australia, is particularly persistent and dangerous in sea water and that it’s half-life, or the rate at which it breaks down, is dramatically longer in the ocean, even as much as 315 days in some conditions.

Some of the documented Aquatic effects

Because glyphosate has high water solubility, and both it and its metabolite AMPA are increasingly found in the aquatic environment, effects on aquatic organisms are of growing concern (Contardo-Jara et al 2009).

New research on the DNA-damaging effects of Glyphosate indicates that it can do significant harm to fish even after short-term, environmentally low concentration exposures in the parts per billion range (μg /L).

Glyphosate containing herbicides caused DNA damage and micronucleus induction in the gill cells of the neotropical fish Prochilodus lineatus, and DNA damage but not micronucleus induction in its erythrocytes, at 10 mg/l concentration (Cavalcante et al 2008).

Glyphosate containing herbicides have also been shown to cause DNA damage in sea urchin embryos (Bellé et al 2007.)