NORTH Queensland Bulk Ports is supporting the Project Catalyst Annual Forum, which will bring together growers, natural resource management groups, the Australian government, WWF Australia and The Coca-Cola Foundation.

To be held from 23-25 February in Mackay, the forum will extend the work of Project Catalyst, a collaboration that supports sugarcane growers and promotes farm practices that improve water quality from sugarcane farms impacting the Great Barrier Reef.

“NQBP recognises the far-reaching importance of innovation to help safeguard the future of the Great Barrier Reef,” NQBP CEO Mr Fertin said.

“Innovation and robust science are the future of any industry – including ports. NQBP is proud to be associated with this world-renowned partnership which pioneers farm management practice change, leading to improved water quality for the Great Barrier Reef.

“With three ports on the doorstep to Great Barrier Reef, NQBP shares the same goal as Project Catalyst to manage a sustainable business with high levels of social and environmental integrity.”

Participating growers work on concepts and technologies that are then implemented across the regions to drive improvements for the environment and keep the viability of their farming businesses.

Ross Neivandt, environmental consultant and project co-ordinator for catchment solutions which oversees Project Catalyst said NQBP is a valued addition to the supporters this year.

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“It’s tremendous to have the support of NQBP, an industry leader renowned for environmental management and water quality monitoring,” Mr Neivandt said.

Mr Neivandt said Project Catalyst’s reach had expanded significantly from its founding numbers of just 19 growers.

“Today we are actively working with more than 130 cane growers that farm over 26,000 Hectares, from Mossman in the north to Koumala in the south,” Mr Neivandt said.

More than 900,000 tonnes of raw and refined sugar combined was exported from Mackay Port via the Mackay Sugar Terminal in 2018-19.

“The Port of Mackay and the sugar industry have gone hand in hand since the port was built 81 years ago,” Mr Fertin said.

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