The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), is a partner in the Australian and Queensland Governments' joint commitment to a new Reef Water Quality Protection Plan (Reef Plan). It is an action plan to halt and reverse the decline in the quality of water flowing into the Great Barrier Reef from the catchment.
Water quality guidelines
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has developed water quality guidelines for describing the concentrations of sediment, nutrients, and pesticides that are needed for the protection and maintenance of marine species and the Reef's ecosystem health.
Land-based facilities discharging sewage effluent directly into the Marine Park are managed under the Sewage Discharge Policy 2005 and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983.
Vessel-based sewage discharges must comply with regulations administered by the GBRMPA and those for Queensland coastal waters requirements.
Ship-sourced pollutants including discharge and disposal of waste, exchanges of ballast water, oil spills and potential anti-foulant paint effects are covered by various regulations, conventions and policies applied in the Great Barrier Reef.
Aquaculture facilities located within and next to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park produce a range of marine and freshwater species including pearl and edible oysters, prawns and barramundi, These facilities must be approved by GBRMPA as per the Aquaculture Position Statement.
Traditionally, land-based aquaculture farms have often discharged high concentrations of suspended solids and nutrients into nearby waterways. However, this situation is improving with the use of new techniques such as settlement and bio-filtration ponds that contain algae, bivalves or fish in new and existing aquaculture farms. Discharges from aquaculture farms are now regulated to make sure they protect the water quality of local waterways and the Great Barrier Reef.
On 2 March 2005, the Commonwealth Minister for Environment and Heritage accredited Queensland law under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (Aquaculture) Regulations 2000.
A statement of reasons is available for this decision. Based on this agreement, no permission from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is required for a land-based aquaculture facility to operate (that is any land-based aquaculture facility that discharges aquaculture waste to a waterway leading to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park).