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A 2001 report on the health of Queensland's Great Barrier Reef by the World Wide Fund for Nature (Australia) [WWF] branded the waters of Keppel Bay as the state’s ‘hot-spot’ for coastal pollution with many inshore reefs either dead or severely degraded. The cause of the problem, the report claimed, was the Fitzroy River which discharged into the bay large amounts of nutrients and a greater quantity of sediment than any other coastal river system. WWF attributed the predicament to high run-off and erosion resulting from farming practices and accelerated land clearing throughout the river's extensive catchment over recent decades.1 www.gbr.wwf.org.au.Certainly these factors have contributed in no small way to the current problem and need urgent remediation; however the sediment load of the Fitzroy was substantial even before development of the river basin. [Early evidence of Fitzroy sediment.]

For many thousands of years, substantial quantities of the naturally eroded and transported material was deposited in the lower reaches and estuary of the Fitzroy due to low gradient and meanders slowing the river flow as well as the ebb-and-flow tidal effect. The irony is that whereas human activity is considered as creating serious environmental problems today, in the nineteenth century the reverse was the case. In those days, it was firmly believed that Nature was causing a problem for humans in that heavy sedimentation and shoaling of the Fitzroy River impeded vital access to port facilities at Rockhampton, some 60km up the estuary. [Fitzroy and navigation.]
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Coastal CRC Central Queensland University Email to a friend