A LONG-running partnership between North Queensland Bulk Ports and James Cook University has been recognised with the two entities receiving an award for getting the “right balance between commercial activities and stewardship of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area”.

NQBP and JCU won the Outstanding Collaboration for National Benefit category at the 2019 Business Higher Education Round Table awards, which celebrate leading university and business collaborations.

NQBP chief executive Nicolas Fertin said they were “extremely proud” the integrated marine monitoring program which was developed with JCU’s Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER) was recognised among 155 applicants.

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“The outcomes of the program included a breakthrough in understanding the way coastal marine system functions, improved input for the regulation and definition of key environmental thresholds and training for marine ecology and management,” Mr Fertin said.

“The partnership also sets an example to the maritime industry around the world of how well-managed ports and critical coastal habitats can coexist.”

BHERT chief executive Dr Peter Binks said judges liked the fact it used the skills of different partners to create solutions for one of Australia’s most important natural resources.

“We noted the integral marine habitat scientific information supplied by JCU is integrated early in NQBP’s processes and has resulted in some fundamental changes to help minimise the impacts of port operations in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.”

NQBP senior manager, environment and planning, Kevin Kane, said the current partnership, which begun in 2017, was built on more than 20 years of work between TropWATER scientists and NQBP.

“The data we have collected on water quality, seagrass and coral is outstanding and incredibly valuable,” he said.

“It allows us to make informed decisions about environmental impacts on port operations and has also contributed to major breakthroughs in understanding coastal marine systems.”

Dr Michael Rasheed, TropWATER principal research scientist, said the partnership had also provided coveted industry placement training for JCU students.

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