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8.5 Million for Cape York Reef Projects

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8.5 Million for Cape York Reef Projects to improve water quality

Cape York Water Partnership (CYWP) has launched an $8.5 million Eastern Cape York Water Quality Program in Cooktown in a new initiative funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

Four eastern Cape York land management organisations will undertake land-based work to minimise erosion and sediment run-off to Great Barrier Reef waterways.

Erosion from massive gullies contribute to poor water quality in eastern Cape York (Credit Jeff Shelberg)
Erosion from massive gullies contribute to poor water quality in eastern Cape York (Credit Jeff Shelberg)

Coordinated by CYWP, the eight projects cover 631,000 ha of eastern Cape York in the coastal catchments of the Annan, Endeavour, McIvor, Starke, Jeannie, Howick, Wakooka, and Muck rivers.

The projects, which address key threats to water quality in eastern Cape York including erosion from fire, roads, tracks and gullies, will be delivered by Yuku Baja Muliku, South Endeavour Trust, South Cape York Catchments and Cape York Water Partnership.

Cape York Water Partnership Program Director Dr Christina Howley said receiving funding for the Eastern Cape York Water Quality Program recognised many years of research and advocacy from eastern Cape York land managers and provided significant opportunities for local organisations to address the key threats to water quality.

(L to R) Jason Carroll South Cape York Catchments, Milena Gongora (Great Barrier Reef Foundation), Robert Speed (Great Barrier Reef Foundation),Christina Howley (Cape York Water Partnership, Greg Oliver (Great Barrier Reef Foundation), Kallum Clarke (Cape York Water Partnership)
(L to R) Jason Carroll South Cape York Catchments, Milena Gongora (Great Barrier Reef Foundation), Robert Speed (Great Barrier Reef Foundation),Christina Howley (Cape York Water Partnership, Greg Oliver (Great Barrier Reef Foundation), Kallum Clarke (Cape York Water Partnership)

“The rivers, wetlands and marine ecosystems in eastern Cape York are in relatively good condition compared to more heavily developed areas. However, there are serious impacts from erosion that will continue to degrade these aquatic ecosystems if they are not addressed,” Dr Howley said.

“We are excited to work together with local landholders, land managers, Traditional Owners, conservation groups and Council to find the best ways to reduce existing road and gully erosion and stop creating more erosion through poor management practices.”

Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden said the Great Barrier Reef is an irreplaceable ecosystem, but poor water quality from land run-off is a significant threat to its health.

Project partner panel at the launch - Robert Speed (Great Barrier Reef Foundation), Christina Howley (Cape York Water Partnership), Denis Kelly (South Cape York Catchments), Tim Hughes (South Endeavour Trust), Jeff Shellberg (Cape York Water Partnership / South Cape York Catchments), David Kyle(South Cape York Catchments) and panel host Sarah Herkess (Cape York Water Partnership).
Project partner panel at the launch – Robert Speed (Great Barrier Reef Foundation), Christina Howley (Cape York Water Partnership), Denis Kelly (South Cape York Catchments), Tim Hughes (South Endeavour Trust), Jeff Shellberg (Cape York Water Partnership / South Cape York Catchments), David Kyle(South Cape York Catchments) and panel host Sarah Herkess (Cape York Water Partnership).

“This water quality improvement program is the first major investment of its kind for the Eastern Cape York region, bringing together and building on many years of effort by Traditional Owners, councils, landholders, local scientists and conservation groups to foster healthy land and water to benefit our Great Barrier Reef,” Ms Marsden said.

“We’re proud to partner with Cape York Water Partnership, South Cape York Catchments, South Endeavour Trust and Yuku Baja Muliku in launching these new projects.

“By working together to improve the health of the water flowing from the Cape York region to our Reef, we’re not only improving conditions for the Reef’s precious corals, but we’re also saving our endangered turtles and dugongs that feed on the seagrass beds that need clean water to thrive.”

The program runs until June 2024.

8.5 Million for Cape York Reef Projects
Flood plume taken from Grassy Hill in Cooktown (Credit Jeff Shellberg)

The Eastern Cape York Water Quality Program is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

Adrian Stacey
Adrian Stacey
Scuba Diver ANZ Editor, Adrian Stacey, first learned to dive on the Great Barrier Reef over 24 years ago. Since then he has worked as a dive instructor and underwater photographer in various locations around the world including, Egypt, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico and Saba. He has now settled in Australia, back to where his love of diving first began.
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