Farm chemicals damaging Barrier Reef

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Pesticides from agricultural sediment run-off are contaminating the Great Barrier Reef and infecting marine life, reports the Whitsunday Times.

Cancer causing pollutants have been detected in eight of the Reef parks ten major rivers leeching poison, a report from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority says.

These poisons include banned organochlorine pesticides, PCBs (Industrial Coolants), and insecticides such as dieldrin and DDT.

A major study of the Reef discovered limits of chemicals exceeding state water quality guidelines for nutrient and sediment.

Over 90% of the pollution landing on the reef is from loss of farm soil and chemicals

Pesticide residues, including Diuron and Attrazine, have been found in crabs and offshore in the feeding grounds of turtles and dugongs said World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the global conservation organisation.

“We all know the quality of water entering the reef must be improved and that there will be no quick fix. This report confirms we have a big job ahead of us,” Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority executive director Andrew Skeat said.

The authority said it is still ok to eat the crabs as the chemicals were found in their internal organs which were not normally eaten.

Canegrowers, the peak representative body for Australian canegrowers is appalled at the sensationalism surrounding issues with the reef following commentary on this study.

The CEO of Canegrowers, Ian Ballantyne, has urged media and the community alike to take a reality check relating to the health of the reef.

“The reality is that cane growers have worked in close collaboration with other land based industries, Natural Resource Management groups and reef agencies, to ensure farming practices have dramatically improved over the last 50 years, with widespread adoption of good farming practices.” Mr Ballantyne said that organochlorines had not been used for 20 years.

Source: Whitsunday Times