Image: Participants of the Climate Workshop held in Proserpine 

Planning for a Changing Climate
Late in 2016 The Reef Catchments Climate Plan was launched.  This document includes climate modelling information for the Mackay Whitsunday Issac region and highlights actions to be used for setting regional targets and implementing climate adaptation and mitigation.  

Key regional stakeholders have been invited to workshop some of the actions and will continue to drive the roll-out of climate change adaptation and mitigation. The Australian Government has committed to the Paris Agreement which "...builds upon the Convention and – for the first time – brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so".  

For more information, click here

The Australian Government has committed to  reach zero emissions by 2050 in the Paris agreement, and the Queensland Government is currently drafting climate strategy and planning to achieve this target.

Reef Catchments would like to see regional stakeholders commit to mitigation targets in-line with the Paris Agreement so that the Mackay, Whitsunday, Isaac Region plays its role in protection of the Great Barrier Reef from one of its greatest threats to its long-term health, climate change. 

Help Keep an Eye on the Reef!

The Great Barrier Reef is roughly the same size as Germany, so it is nigh on impossible for one organisation to keep tabs on the entire thing.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) run a citizen science project called Eye on the Reef. This program employs any and all members of the community and visitors to the reef to report their findings to the MPA in order to contribute to the reef's long term protection. People can submit essential information such as coral condition or spawning events, animal sightings such as Crown-of-thorns starfish or whales, and marine incidents and injured species through their phones and tablets. 

Being a part of the Eye on the Reef program means that you can help the GBRMPA collect information and take action to protect our beautiful World Heritage Area.  Become a part of this citizen science movement by
downloading the Eye on the Reef app today.

Coastal Conference

The Australian Coastal Society, Reef Catchments and the Queensland Coastal Conference steering committee welcome you to the 6th Queensland Coastal Conference to be held at Lure Abell Point Marina, Airlie Beach in the beautiful Whitsundays on the 4-7 September 2017. The theme of the 2017 Conference is: Queensland Coastal Conference 2017 - 10 Years in the Making.

The conference will bring together professionals from all levels of government, universities, research centres, industry and regional bodies and from a broad spectrum of disciplines including natural resource management, engineering, community engagement, policy and planning to share cutting edge information and ideas.

Please click here for more information

Image: Volunteers at a Mackay Clean Up last year 

Upcoming events: 

5     Clean Up Australia Day, Birdlife monthly outing 
22   World Water Day
25   Earth Hour

2      BirdLife monthly outing
4      Town Beach Coastcare Event
6      Cannonvale Beach Coastcare Event
8      Goodbye Waders Event
18     ​World Heritage Day​    
22     Earth Day


Get involved- Seagrass Watch 
Would you like to see some amazing marine creatures, collect data which influences environmental improvement works and meet some amazing, passionate and knowledgeable citizen scientists?

If your answer is yes, Seagrass Watch is for you.  

What is Seagrass Watch?

Seagrass-Watch is a scientific assessment and monitoring program, which started in Australia in 1998, and is now the largest of its kind in the world. Seagrass-Watch aims to raise awareness on the condition and trend of nearshore seagrass ecosystems and provide an early warning system of major environmental changes. It does this by involving participants from a wide variety of backgrounds, from researchers and government works, to established school and community groups.

Seagrass meadow Homestead Bay Cid Island 
(Source: Jacquie Sheils)

Why collect data?
“Seagrasses live in the coastal waters of most of the worlds’ continents. They are the main diet of dugongs and green turtles and provide a habitat for many, smaller marine animals, some of which, like prawns and fish, are commercially important. They also absorb nutrients from coastal run-off and stabilise sediment, helping to keep the water clear.” (Seagrass Watch HQ, 2015) In addition to environmental significance, seagrass beds have economic, cultural and a social significance.  

Through undertaking regular monitoring at the same location, we can develop an idea of the health of the seagrass beds and monitor changes overtime in response to pressures such as development, land use, water quality and climate. Using this information, organisations can respond to impacts on seagrass health to improve practices and better protect

To learn more about Seagrass-Watch, go to, or contact Reef Catchments (Cass Hayward at to be put in touch with your local Seagrass Watch coordinator.

Fun Facts About Mangroves

  • Coral reef fish were up to twice as abundant on reefs adjacent to mangrove forests compared to reefs that weren't
  • Biologists estimate 75% of the commercially caught fish and prawns in Queensland spend at least some part of their life cycle living in the mangroves. 
  • Australia has the third largest area of mangroves in the world after Indonesia and Brazil, totalling around 11,500 km2 and representing nearly 6.4% of the world’s total mangrove area.

Cat Program and Clean Up Australia Day Event!

A new study by leading environmental scientists shows feral cats have spread across 99.8% of Australia's land mass. Australia's feral cat population fluctuates between about 2 million in lean times, and 6.3 million when there has been good rain and prey is plentiful.  Cats are prolific breeders and therefore every cat caught prevents thousands of potential offspring. Reef Catchments is currently runnings its cat program at Conway and Wilsons Beach. The cat program hopes to educate on best practice cat management and monitor and trap feral cats.  You can participate by joining us on Clean Up Australia Day or by providing feedback on your knowledge of cats in the region by completing our online survey here.

Come and join in our cat program event aligned with Clean up Australia Day.  Clean the coast, enjoy a snag and hear all about the impact of cats, their management and the cat program!

Hello from the Coasts and Biodiversity Team!

This scorcher of a summer has kept us in the Reef Catchments' Coasts and Biodiversity team super busy! We have spent our time organising works over more than 1000ha with our partners to protect and enhance biodiversity in the region, improve ecosystem connectivity and to engage our coastal communities. We are excited to continue monitoring the progress of works and biodiversity improvements across our region, and to keep you updated with how we're going!

With Jess Berryman, Mackay based Coast and Biodiversity Officer, departing to complete her Masters degree in February, we have been even more flat out than normal! Jess left us all with this message:
"Working with Reef Catchments in the Coast and Biodiversity team has been a whirlwind. I have been so fortunate to work in such an ecologically diverse and rich region with such passionate stakeholders and absolutely incredible volunteers!  To all those I have had the pleasure of 'getting my hands dirty' with at Coastcare events, or met through some other avenue along the way "thanks for your support, friendship and hard work- you guys have really made it all worthwhile!"  I am looking forward to a new adventure; working hard to expand my knowledge, skills and further grow my ability to positively influence environmental conservation efforts across all demographics.   Thanks for sharing this stunning region with me for the past two years!  If you want to keep in touch, please contact Reef Catchments and leave your details for me."

And with that, we are excited to welcome our new Mackay based Coast and Biodiversity Officer, Cass Hayward.  Cass has recently graduated from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Environmental Management (Hons) and a Major in Natural Systems and Wildlife Management, taking only 3.5 years to complete the 4 year degree and winning a Dean’s commendation for academic excellence. Throughout university, Cass worked in a number of SEQ’s coastal environments including Fraser Island, Stradbroke Island and Redbank, studying their biodiversity, ecosystems and natural processes.  She also headed a large research project for Brisbane City Council regarding invasive species management.  Being born and raised in the Whitsundays, Cass brings her comprehensive understanding of local coastal processes together with her knowledge and invaluable motivation, to Reef Catchments.
Cass is a familiar face at Reef Catchments.  Over the summer of 2015/16, she undertook a student placement with Reef Catchments within the Coasts and Biodiversity Team.  During this time she assisted to draft a number of Local Coastal Plans for the Mackay region and gained a thorough understanding of the assets, threats and issues associated with the regions coastal environments.   Cass is passionate and enthusiastic about natural resource management and conservation, and is already an active volunteer for Eco Barge Clean Seas Inc.   We would like to welcome her to the Coasts and Biodiversity Team and encourage you to all introduce yourselves when you see her next!   We are excited to see what she will achieve in her time with Reef Catchments.

As the New Year kicks on, we are excited to announce more upcoming events for the region- we would love to see you at a Coastcare event this year! If there's any topics you would like to hear about or you have any stories about coastal, island or biodiversity works or related events happening around the Mackay, Whitsunday, Isaac region, please email us here.

The Coasts and Biodiversity Team.

What is living on our coast?

We are pleased to announce we will again be running Coastcare events over the Easter school holidays this year! We invite all kids with a keen interest in our beautiful beaches and wildlife to come along for an interactive, free, fun filled morning! We will be playing games and learning all about the plants and animals living along our coasts, what a healthy beach looks like and how we can all play a part in conserving our beautiful coastlines! 

Two events are scheduled across the region. Residents and visitors to Mackay can head along to Town Beach on Tuesday, 4th of April, whilst locals and holidaymakers in the Whitsundays can head along to Cannonvale Beach on Thursday the 6th of April. 

Guaranteed to keep your family busy, both events will provide kids and adults alike an amazing opportunity to learn about the beautiful beaches and wildlife in our region!

Numbers are strictly limited and guardian supervision is required.

Register Now to secure your spot!

Register your family by contacting:
Cass Hayward (Town Beach):

Olivia Brodhurst (Cannonvale Beach):


Coasts and Islands Project Update
The Coasts and Biodiversity Team has been busy organising works with our partners across the Mackay, Whitsundays and Isaac region.  Many projects are underway, contributing to weed control, revegetation, pest management and threatened species management amongst other activities. These projects cover more than 1000 ha of coastal habitat! We are also implementing projects which focus on community engagement and utilise citizen science to extend outcomes. Read on to find out about opportunities to learn new skills and contribute to coastal improvement in your area.
Far Beach: enhancing our coastal dune
Pioneer Catchment Landcare volunteers and staff have kicked off the New Year at Far Beach, working to restore critically endangered beach scrub community. Beating the heat with an early morning start, volunteers attended a coastal education and invasive plant identification session with Mackay Regional Council in mid-January.

Image: PCL Volunteers with Mackay Regional Council's Jonathan Dykyj 

The project is targeting the southern end of Far Beach, an area with high ecological value. Far Beach supports multiple shorebird roosts used by local and migratory species, provides turtle nesting habitat and the endangered beach scrub ecosystem is known to provide habitat for the endangered Northern Quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) and the near threatened coastal sheathtail bat (Taphozous australis). For more information on shorebirds using the area, visit Far Beach and check out the new interpretive sign (opposite the volleyball courts) designed by Reef Catchments, with the support of Birdlife Mackay and Mackay Regional Council.

             Image: Shorebird sign, Far Beach

You can get involved with restoring our beautiful coastline by volunteering with Reef Catchments Coastcare (register for Coastcare here) or Pioneer Catchment Landcare (register with PCL here). 

For more information on birds of our region contact Birdlife Mackay here.

Saving our Seas

If you haven't heard about our partners Eco Barge Clean Seas Inc. and Wild Mob, you are in for a good day. Both of these fantastic, not-for-profit organisations take volunteers out to our gorgeous islands to help clean up the ecosystems. Eco Barge focuses on the removal of marine debris, while Wildmob have more to do with weed control. Both organisations have been busy the past few months, working to enhance the beauty and condition of our ocean and amazing island ecosystems.

Image: Eco Barge volunteer looking for plastics amongst debris

Wildmob’s passionate staff have been planning some upcoming incredible island conservation expeditions to some of the most beautiful and remote areas in our region. One of the programs that Reef Catchments funds is the Marine Classroom, during which Wildmob take a number of school students camping on islands off of Mackay. The students learn about coastal ecosystems whilst undertaking weed control, marine debris removal and other conservation activities.

You can get involved with improving the health of our island ecosystems and protecting habitat for some very special wildlife, like the vulnerable beach stone-curlews (Esacus magnirostris) and our vulnerable marine turtles, through volunteering on one of many Wildmob trips scheduled for 2017! Not only will you be contributing to positive change for our wildlife, but you will also see some incredible areas and hear stories about the history of our region, how the landscape has transformed and all about the habitat you’re helping to restore.  

 For more information on Wild Mob’s upcoming trips, CLICK HERE. 

Image: Wild Mob volunteers set sail on the Wild Cat headed for a beautiful island location

Following on from a pollution Source Reduction Workshop, run by our partners Tangaroa Blue and Eco Barge Clean Seas early in 2016, Eco Barge have released the Whitsunday Marine Debris Management Plan'. This plan was developed to highlight marine debris management achievements in the region and outline a strategy for improving methods for the prevention and removal of marine debris entering the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon. For more information about the plan, click here.

As all of us in the Coasts and Biodiversity Team have volunteered with Eco Barge in the past, we can assure you that it is an absolutely fabulous day out. Cruising around our islands is amazing, and filling the barge with all sorts of marine debris is extremely rewarding work. Volunteers frequently gather more than 200kg in a single day. 

To get involved with Eco Barge marine debris removal trips, assist with turtle rehabilitation or find out about other ways to help, CLICK HERE. 
The Coasts and Communities Program is a joint initiative of Isaac, Whistunday and Mackay Regional Councils and Reef Catchments with support from the Australian Government

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Reef Catchments Mackay Whitsunday Isaac · 1/85 Gordon St · Mackay, QLD 4740 · Australia

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