16 Sep 2019

One of North Queensland Bulk Ports’ (NQBP) longest running environmental partnerships took out a national award last night, recognising the effort for the right balance between commercial activities and stewardship of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

NQBP and James Cook University (JCU) won the Outstanding Collaboration for National Benefit category at the 2019 BHERT* awards, which celebrate leading university and business collaborations.

“We are extremely proud that 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 by a panel of leaders from Universities across Australia” NQBP CEO Nicolas Fertin said.

“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.”

“The partnership also sets an example to the maritime industry around the world of how well-managed ports and critical coastal habitats can coexist for the preservation of iconic natural assets and significant economic assets for future generations.”

BHERT CEO, Dr Peter Binks, praised the winning program, saying the judges particularly liked the fact it used the skills of the different partners to create joint 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’s 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.

“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, Principal Research Scientist at TropWATER, said the partnership had also provided coveted industry placement training for JCU students.

“It has enabled our students to work closely with scientists and industry leaders and implement real world applied outcomes, which means graduating students are more job ready than ever,” he said.

Data collected by NQBP and JCU is also used in the Mackay-Whitsunday Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership’s (HR2P) annual waterway health report card, alongside multiple other marine data sets.

HR2P’s Executive Officer, Charlie Morgan, said: “It’s great to see the JCU and NQBP collaboration recognised via this prestigious award. We firmly believe a partnership approach involving multiple sectors is the key to providing comprehensive waterway health information for a complex system such as the Great Barrier Reef and its adjacent catchments.”

ENDS

Editors notes:

*Business Higher Education Round Table (BHERT) awards

North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation contact:
Tom Davis | Communications Advisor
07 3011 7972 | tdavis@nqbp.com.au