FACT SHEETS -
CORAL REEF IMPACTS
26 REEF WATER QUALITY
• Reef water quality is affected, among other things, by sediments, nutrients and chemicals. The levels of these are increasingly being affected by human activity.
• Good water quality is essential for life on the reef. Clear water allows the sun to reach the algae residing in the coral and photosynthesize, and the right balance of nutrients and chemicals allows the reef ecosystem to thrive.
• Various human activities (such as runoff from farming) and natural activities (such as flooding) affect water quality on the reef. Extensive land development in the catchments areas around the Great Barrier Reef has led to increasing pollution of the reef water.
• One of the main impacts from agriculture is increasing nutrient runoff (primarily from fertilizers) that negatively affects coral reefs as it promotes algae growth potentially to a level where the algae blocks the sunlight and smothers coral hampering coral growth and reproduction.
• It has been suggested that poor water quality increases the incidence of infectious diseases amongst coral. The Great Barrier Reef is considered to have low incidences of coral disease although scientists are reporting increases.
• The Great Barrier Reef Water Quality Protection Plan was initiated in 2003 as a joint project between the state and federal government in order to protect the reed from land based sources of pollution. (Please see the Sedimentation Fact Sheet for more information on sedimentation)
• The Reef Plan (Home and Publications and resources): http://www.reefplan.qld.gov.au/ http://www.reefplan.qld.gov.au/publications/index.shtm
• The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (Home and Water quality): http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/ http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/corp_site/key_issues/water_quality
• ReefED: http://www.reefed.edu.au/home/explorer/hot_topics/water_quality
• AIMS http://www.aims.gov.au/pages/about/communications/waypoint/004/index.html