The eighth annual Gladstone Harbour Report Card, prepared by the Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership (GHHP), was released on February 16, containing updated results for the harbour’s Social and Economic components for the first time since 2019.
The Report Card, which is the partnership’s core annual publication, is the eighth consecutive assessment of the harbour’s environmental, social, economic, and cultural health. The results are derived from 107 different measurements across 33 health indicators collected by GHHP’s Independent Science Panel. Each indicator subsequently received a grade ranging from very poor (E) to very good (A), resulting in the overall scores presented in the Report Card each year.
The 2022 Report Card reveals that, of the four components assessed, the Environmental health of the Gladstone Harbour is ‘satisfactory’ (C), a decline from last year’s overall ‘good’ ‘B’ grading. The harbour’s Social and Economic health was once again found to be ‘good’ (B), while the harbour’s Cultural health remained ‘satisfactory’ (C).
GHHP’s Independent Science Panel Chair, Professor John Rolfe, explains that the decline in the overall Environmental health score is a result of a slight reduction in the scores for some of the sub-component indicator groups which collectively contribute to the overall Environmental health score. The sub-components include “Water and Sediment Quality”, “Fish and Crabs” and “Habitats.” Of these sub-components, there were slight reductions in the Water and Sediment Quality and Fish and Crabs scores, although the grades of both indicators remained the same as 2021.
“When you look at 2022’s Environmental results, it’s important to note that the Water and Sediment Quality sub-component still received a ‘very good’ (A) grade, the Habitats sub-component received a ‘poor (D) grade, and the Fish and Crabs sub-component a ‘satisfactory’ (C) grade, which is identical to last year’s report. The difference lies in the scores that underpin the grades, where there have been reductions in some of the indicator groups that combine to form the grade for each sub-component” says Prof. Rolfe.
“The score for the Water Quality indicator group dropped from 0.91 to 0.81 due largely to increases in turbidity and nutrients, while the overall Fish and Crabs score dropped from 0.62 to 0.55 due largely to lower scores for mud crabs. When combined, the was enough to drop the overall Environmental health score to ‘satisfactory’”.
While the Environmental health of the harbour has declined in some areas, Prof. Rolfe notes that it’s not all bad news, with other indicators like Sediment Quality and Seagrass revealing some extremely positive results.
“The overall Sediment Quality grade was found to be ‘very good’ (A) for the eighth consecutive year, with all of the 13 environmental monitoring zones having achieved an ‘A’ grade in this area,” he explains.
“Seagrass also received a ‘good’ (B) score for the third consecutive year after five years of consistently poor or satisfactory grades. 10 of the 14 monitored sites improved on their 2021 score, four of which had a marked increase, which is a testament to the various seagrass monitoring and restoration work being undertaken by several of our partner organisations.”
The new 2022 results for the harbour’s Social, Economic and Cultural health mirror those collected in 2019, with no marked changes in scores for these components.
GHHP Chair, Professor Iain Gordon, says this shows that the community’s perceived social and cultural value of the harbour remains relatively high, and the harbour’s economic health remains stable and promising.
“Past results have consistently shown that the scores for the Social, Economic and Cultural components remain relatively stable year on year, which is why we only assess these components every three years,” explains Prof. Gordon.
“The harbour’s overall Social health has been identified as ‘good’ (B) since 2016. Given that this assessment is based off the results of an independent community perception survey, which 200 people took part in, it’s a promising sign that most community members find the harbour to be very usable, accessible and an asset that contributes to the region’s liveability. We’ve once again seen this same continuity for the Sense of Place indicator.”
The Economic Performance indicator received a ‘very good’ (A) grade for the sixth year in a row owing to the continued strength of shipping activity and tourism, a positive sign for the region’s post-pandemic recovery.
Both the Queensland and Australian governments provide funding to five regional waterway report card partnerships within the catchment of the Great Barrier Reef, including the GHHP. The GHHP is also supported by local government, industry, Traditional Owners, community and other partners, including harbour management. Further information on the grades presented in the 2022 Gladstone Harbour Report Card and the methods used to determine them is freely available on GHHP’s website: https://www.ghhp.org.au/2022-report-card
For media enquiries or additional information about the report card, please contact Tracey Siddins on (07) 4921 0241 or firstname.lastname@example.org