Long term ambient water quality monitoring to support port management in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area

Waltham, Nathan, York, Paul, McKenna, Skye, Petus, Caroline, Devlin, Michelle, Rasheed, Michael, Campbell, Sean, Whinney, James, and Kane, Kevin (2017) Long term ambient water quality monitoring to support port management in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. In: Proceedings of the Australasian Coasts & Ports 2017 Conference, pp. 1125-1130. From: Australasian Coasts & Ports 2017 Conference: working with nature, 21-23 June 2017, Cairns, QLD, Australia.

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Abstract

The condition of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA) is important to the Australian and international community as a multiuse national park. North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) is responsible for three major port facilities adjacent to the GBRWHA. NQBP partnered with TropWATER (James Cook University) to commence a long-term environmental monitoring and research program in the Ports of Mackay and Hay Point. The first year of continuous monitoring provided an excellent platform to understand water quality characteristics within and surrounding both ports. This period of work coincided with an El Nino period and allowed the collection of scientifically "lucrative" data, collection of continuous water quality data un-influenced by rainfall and catchment flows are rare. High frequency loggers positioned on the seafloor showed peak suspended sediment concentrations and light attenuation every 2 weeks coinciding with local climate conditions. Interestingly, during these times, suspended solid concentrations exceeded Government water quality guidelines even in the absence of any acute anthropogenic activities. The use of satellite images were not particularly useful in mapping surface turbidity during low flow conditions, but could improve when normal rainfall patterns return again, but was not particularly useful in determining water quality more generally in the region. This monitoring program demonstrates how short-term programs could generate misleading conclusions, and how long term strategic investment in environmental monitoring and stewardship is critical in supporting ongoing port management decisions. Having long-term, rigorous environmental information is key to managing, minimising, and contextualising marine and coastal environmental change.

Item ID: 53386
Item Type: Conference Item (Refereed Research Paper - E1)
Keywords: water quality, port development, sensitive receptor habitats, high frequency logging, SSC
ISBN: 978-1-922107-91-6
Funders: North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP)
Date Deposited: 08 May 2018 03:36
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050204 Environmental Impact Assessment @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960701 Coastal and Marine Management Policy @ 50%
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