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The Mackay-Whitsunday Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership (the Partnership) was established in 2014 to produce an annual report card for the region, which covers from Home Hill in the north to Flaggy Rock Creek in the south, including the freshwater and marine environment (to the eastern boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park).

Healthy Rivers to Reef 2015 report cardThe 2015 report card has been released. It represents the second annual waterway health report card for the region. The primary objective of the report card is to effectively communicate to the community scientifically sound and independent information at a relevant scale .

What are the key messages of the Report Card?

  • The majority of waterways in the region this year received scores of C, however a number of areas scored a D, particularly river basins. This included the Don River basin, Pioneer River basin, Plane Creek basin and the Northern marine inshore zone.
  • The offshore marine area was the only zone to score a B overall. Water quality in this zone again scored an A and ranked highest regionally. Importantly, the number of juvenile coral has increased in the offshore marine zone – a positive indicator for Reef health.
  • Some areas improved from last year primarily due to lower rainfall than average. While there was an improvement in the water quality score in the Whitsunday region, this should be viewed with caution due to current limited sampling sites and data. Expansion of data sets for this area is a goal of the Partnership.
  • Contaminants like pesticides are still a key issue, particularly the freshwater streams in the Plane Creek basin and the estuaries of Sandy Creek and Rocky Dam Creek which received an E for contaminants and the Pioneer River basin and Gregory River estuary which received a D.
  • New fish community health and fish-barrier indicators have been added this year and will provide an important gauge for native fish health and diversity. A newly developed flow indicator in next year’s report card will complete the picture.
  • Cutting edge new cultural indicators show Cape Hillsborough and islands of the Whitsundays are home to some very important cultural heritage sites.
  • Stewardship scores across all industries in the Region were similar to the previous year.

Answers to other Frequently Asked Questions

The Role of the Independent Scientific Panel

To ensure the validity of both the assessment methodology and the data used in the report cards, review by the Reef Plan Independent Science Panel (ISP) has been included at key points during the development of the report cards. Specifically, the ISP has reviewed the assessment methodologies for all data included in the pilot and 2015 report cards. Further details on the assessment methodologies and data can be found in the technical reports which accompany the 2015 and pilot report cards.

Future Directions 

The Partnership has released a summary of the Partnership’s future directions to improve our annual report card. You can view it here