There are many causes of declines in water quality in tropical marine ecosystems Photo: Ray Berkelmans.

Water quality

Healthy, resilient tropical marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, depend on the quality of the water within and around them.

Declines in coastal water quality have resulted in detrimental impacts on the productivity and function of tropical marine ecosystems, and ultimately on their resilience.

Increasing human population, development of coastal regions and agricultural land use are primary causes of worldwide declines in coastal water quality and marine ecosystem health.

In northern Australia, the main coastal and marine water quality issues are:

  • increasing sediment, nutrients and contaminants entering coastal waters in runoff from agricultural, industrial and urban land uses
  • rising seawater temperatures and increasing seawater acidity associated with climate change.

In order to safeguard the future of our tropical marine ecosystems, including the Great Barrier Reef, AIMS is:

  • assessing the resilience of Great Barrier Reef inshore ecosystems in response to water quality
  • developing regional models of coastal environmental condition and function
  • determining the impacts of known and emerging contaminants
  • identifying zones of influence of, and biological responses to, dredging activities.