Marine Monitoring Program

The Marine Monitoring Program is managed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, with funding from the Department of the Environment and Energy and co-funding from research partners.

Monitoring is conducted by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, James Cook University, University of Queensland, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Reef Catchments and community volunteers.

Annual Reports provide detailed scientific information on the condition and trend of inshore water quality, coral reefs and seagrass meadows. The annual Summary Report provides a short overview of the key findings.

The Marine Monitoring Program annual reports also interpret information from a range of other programs including Seagrass Watch, AIMS Long Term Monitoring Program, ports data and Reef Health and Impact Surveys.

Results for 2014-15

The Marine Monitoring Program covers the Great Barrier Reef inshore environment.

The 2014-15 results show an improvement in the condition of inshore water quality and coral from poor (D) to moderate (C), while the condition of seagrass meadows was stable (D). Overall, the inshore Reef remains in poor condition (D), but with an improving trajectory following the low point in 2011-12, after severe tropical cyclone Yasi.

The 2014-15 results reflect a year relatively free of disturbance in all regions except for the Burnett Mary, which was affected by tropical cyclone Marcia. Tropical cyclone Nathan only had a minor impact on the marine environment in the northern Great Barrier Reef. Coral bleaching only occurred at low levels in 2014-15.

More information is available from the annual Summary Report and Marine Results report.

Reef Water Quality Protection Plan

The Reef Water Quality Protection Plan (Reef Plan) is a joint Australian and Queensland government initiative that aims to improve the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef from broadscale landuse.

Information on marine ecosystem health collected in the Marine Monitoring Program is combined with data collected at the paddock and catchment level (on ground cover, catchment loads, and land management practices) as part of the Reef Plan Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program.

The objective of the Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program is to measure and report on progress towards Reef Plan's goal and targets through annual Report Cards, which are published every year. The Report Card 2015 was released in October 2016.

Information from the Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program also feeds into the overarching Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program.

Improving marine indicators

The Marine Monitoring Program is committed to continuous improvement. Methods for monitoring and reporting are updated as new information becomes available and scientists determine better ways of assessing key indicators of marine ecosystem health. For example, this year the Marine Monitoring Program improved measurements of coral health by including an indicator for changes in coral community composition. This indicator is particularly sensitive to changes in water quality. The Marine Monitoring Program is currently reviewing indicators for marine water quality.