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Reef Report for Monday, December 1, 2008

Queensland Government and Farmers debate regulation of Farm Practices
Smarter Farming Protects the Great Barrier Reef, but how?

Over the past five weeks we have been following a pretty vigorous debate going on between the state of Queensland and various representatives of the stateís farming industry. Whatís being debated is how to best encourage local farming concerns to adopt farming practices that reduce the runoff of silt and agricultural chemicals into the waters alongside the Great Barrier Reef.

Itís a pretty well established fact that silt and fertilizer washing off Queensland farms adversely impacts the Great Barrier Reef. © University of Queensland Silt covers living reef and blocks sunlight from reaching corals and other animals that depend on light for making food. Fertilizer stimulates the growth of algae, both algae that grow on the reef and prevent and slow coral growth, and free floating algae that reduce the light levels reaching the reef. Other ag chemicals, such as herbicides and pesticides, have been shown to be very toxic to coral larvae, and could be a factor in slowing the natural re-growth of coral.

The Queensland government put forth a voluntary set of guidelines several years back, and even provided funds to help farmers adopt these methods, which many did. Unfortunately recent research has shown that there has been no significant reduction in silt levels washing out onto the reef.

In response to this recent research news the Queensland government has proposed a more regulatory approach, one that mandates certain practices, prohibits others, and penalizes those that would ignore these new laws.

Many Queensland farmers are objecting to this proposal, citing the costs involved in conforming, the fact that it may just be a minority of farmers not adopting better practices, and suggesting that a more proactive approach might be effective.

Itís a bad time to be resisting regulation, as the Global Financial Crisis effecting all of us is largely been problem of under-regulation.

Letís face it, one of the prices of civilization is rules, everyone has to conform to rules of all kinds (driving, parking, how we treat each other, etc) set to make our society a safer and healthier place for all. We think that extends to the environment, and especially to protecting the Great Barrier Reef. We support better regulation of farming practices in the name of protecting our ocean and reef environments.

A News Archive of this story:

PREMIER WARNS OF CHEMICAL DANGER TO THE GREAT BARRIER REEF

Qld may regulate farms to save Reef

Bligh to save the reef

http://qcl.farmonline.com.au/news/state/agribusiness-and-general/general/blighs-reef-laws-ignore-scientists-and-farmers-qff/1346686.aspx

Farm anger aired over reef moves

Farmers air reef run-off regulation anger

Qld Govt rejects calls to dump reef protection plan

(C) DiveTheReef The weekly reef report is written by Joel Groberg of DiveTheReef.com, who compiles them from the many conversations he has with dive staff in the area, as well as† many other local sources in the dive community.

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