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Pollution run-off to Reef improves: report

Enhanced farming practices are leading to a record rate of improvement in the run-off flowing from farms to the Great Barrier Reef, a report has found.

A 2019 report jointly released by federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley and her Queensland counterpart Meaghan Scanlon shows a reduction in inorganic nitrogen discharge from all Reef catchments.

The Reef Water Quality Report Card 2019 is backed by federal and state government funding, with the governments having collectively invested $667 million to support farmers and landholders to reduce pollution from 2017-2023.

Findings from the report show the level of inorganic nitrogen discharged has been reduced by 25.5 per cent since 2013.

The report also found farmers in the Wet Tropics and Burdekin regions were the main contributors to water quality improvements between 2018-2019.

The Pioneer catchment in the Mackay and Whitsunday region recorded the greatest improvement in pesticides, with 80.5 per cent of aquatic species protected from their harmful effects .

The report clearly shows the investment is making a difference, Ms Ley said.

"The fact that the overall marine condition remains poor underlines the importance of those investments," she said.

"We have invested in further programs since the period covered in the report and are committed to further reef water quality improvements."

The Queensland environment minister added that a 4.3 per cent drop between 2018-2019 in dissolved inorganic nitrogen, the Reef's highest-risk marine pollutant, was a positive indication.

"The cumulative reduction of 25.5 per cent since 2013 is positive for the future of the Reef," Ms Scanlon said.

Canegrowers say the report continues to "grossly misrepresent" sugarcane farming's adoption of sustainable practices.

Canegrowers chief executive Dan Galligan says he looks forward to further consultation with the Queensland government and the Commonwealth.

"Today's report card continues to ignore the overall effort towards water quality outcomes where growers have voluntarily participated in Smartcane Best Management Practices to the extent that 35 per cent of the sugarcane land is farmed by accredited growers and 80 per cent is enrolled in the program," he said.

"It is time the reporting process recognised and reflected what the rest of the world knows about our farming practices."

© AAP 2021