Save the Great Barrier Reef – protect the Far North.

CAFNEC’s vision to improve management for the future of the Northern Great Barrier Reef.

A healthy Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is a crucial for the Far North Queensland economy and our social well-being. Our reef and inshore environments are intrinsically linked and we need whole of catchment, coastal and reef management to address the existing and emerging threats.

Cairns-Harbour-Dredging-Xanthe-Rivett-3529In the North our reef environments are in better heath than those to the South. However the same threats that have led to poor outcomes in the South are beginning to take a toll in Far North Queensland. Keeping our Northern Reef healthy will assist the recovery of Southern reefs by providing a natural source of species to recolonise degraded habitats and providing resistance to climate change impacts. Prevention is better (and cheaper) than cure and we need real reform to ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.

In the same way that we are investing to improve the health of the Murray-Darling river system and address the mistakes of the past, we need our Governments to invest billions not millions to help farmers cut pollution; help communities restore river catchments; and help fishers operate more sustainably.

CAFNEC in consultation with community, scientists and other environmental groups has developed 9 priority areas for improvement in reef management. These key points have been identified in the context of the range of threats such as dredging and port expansion, UNESCO considering listing the GBR as ‘World Heritage in Danger’, the development of the Reef 2050 Plan and the seeming lack of attention being given to the healthier Northern section of the GBR.

9 Priority areas for improved management of the Great Barrier Reef

  1. No capital dredging and dumping in the Reef World Heritage Area including Cairns port. Better management of maintenance dredging based on independent science.
  2. Cut pollution and reduce Crown of Thorns starfish outbreaks by helping farmers reduce erosion, fertiliser and pesticide runoff.
  3. Permanently protect sensitive coastal habitats from development, including Cape York. This will mean no new coal or other mineral mining and shipping in the sensitive coastal catchments of the Cape and better regulation of clearing, agricultural developments, existing mining and other developments.
  4. Strengthen the laws that protect the Reef and retain Australian government oversight of development approvals.
  5. Strengthen the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, by increasing its independence and funding, so it can be a true champion for the Reef. Increase the role of the Authority in fisheries management in the GBR.
  6. Provide ongoing and increased support to help Indigenous communities to manage their sea-country, prevent land based threats and to reverse the decline in species such as turtles and dugongs.
  7. Restore and protect degraded rivers, wetlands and bushland in Reef catchments to provide cleaner water and improve wildlife habitat.
  8. Improve fisheries management and profitability in the GBR including regionalisation of fisheries management, net free areas in urban and key estuary systems, bycatch reduction and precautionary principle / science based quotas for species including sharks.
  9. Control the number of ships crossing the Reef and ban high risk ships from entering Reef waters. Limit anchorages, ship based pollution and marine pests.


Comment on the Reef 2050 long term sustainability plan for the Great Barrier Reef is open until the 27th October. Please read our guide to having your say on the Reef 2050 plan and make you comment on the plan.