NORTH Queensland Bulk Ports and James Cook University have teamed up to monitor marine water quality and habitat around several ports in the vicinity of the Great Barrier Reef.
The three-year partnership between NQBP and JCU’s Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research Centre (TropWATER) will cover the ports of Mackay, Hay Point and Abbot Point, with additional monitoring to be implemented at the Port of Weipa.
NQBP senior manager environment and planning Kevin Kane said NQBP had a track record of taking a long-term strategic approach to environmental monitoring and research.
“Partnering with leading science institutions and experts will help us achieve this,” he said.
“This partnership with JCU’s TropWATER will form part of our robust environmental program; it builds on a 20-year relationship delivering world leading research.”
TropWATER senior research scientist and co-director of the partnership Michael Rasheed said the centre would monitor water quality, seagrass and coral health at the ports.
“What TropWATER does is provide NQBP with independent environmental data collected in a scientifically rigorous manner,” he said.
“We’ll be watching what happens to water quality at 18 separate points and checking on seagrass at 23 meadows. We’ll also be monitoring 36 different sites spread amongst six coastal islands to keep an eye on coral.”
Dr Rasheed said the scientists’ work would use a device, custom built at TropWATER, which uses optical ‘backscatter’ to watch sediment deposits.
Also, more traditional methods will be used, including helicopter surveys, divers and boat-based camera sleds.
The research data will be reported in NQBP’s annual environmental report, Your Ports.