Inshore North

The northern boundary of the North inshore reporting zone extends north-eastward from the mainland just north of the Bloomfield River along the boundary of the Wet Tropics NRM marine region to the boundary of the offshore waters and includes enclosed coastal, open coastal and mid-shelf waters. The southern boundary of the North zone extends north-east from Cape Grafton just south of Cairns to the offshore boundary.

The major rivers discharging into the North zone are the Daintree River, the Mossman River and the Barron River. The Bloomfield River discharges at the northern most extent and Smiths Creek discharges through Trinity Inlet at the southernmost extent. Numerous smaller waterways draining the catchments of the often steep eastern slopes of the Great Dividing Range also discharge into the North zone.

Water quality in the  North zone is affected by plumes of sediments, nutrients and pesticides from rivers discharging directly into the zone but also from the plumes of southern rivers, particularly the Russell/Mulgrave and the Tully/Murray, which are carried north by prevailing currents.

The area includes Snapper Island, some 3.7 km east of the Daintree River mouth, the low Isles 11km south-east of Snapper Island, and Green Island, approximately 27 km north east of Cairns. These islands provide fringing shallow water environments that support coral reef ecosystems and intertidal reef seagrass meadows.

Subtidal and intertidal coastal seagrass meadows also occur close to the mainland including Cairns Harbour and Yule Point approximately 10km south of Port Douglas.

Scroll down for further detailed results for each indicator group.



very good








very poor


insufficient data


not applicable

Confidence surrounding the data used in the circle diagrams has been assessed using a multi-criteria framework.


Water quality

Hover over each segment for indicator scores and data confidence.

The overall water quality grade in 2014/15 for the North inshore zone is ‘moderate’ (57.2).

Water quality grades are based on water quality guideline trigger values established for the waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park that, if exceeded, identify the need for management responses. The guidelines are not targets and are not an assessments of pollutant loads entering the marine environment.

The results are derived from in-situ water samples taken at five locations from inshore waters extending from sites adjacent to Cape Tribulation in the north to sites adjacent to Cairns in the south and from passive contaminant samplers located at the Low Isles and Green Island.

The water clarity score of 37.1 (poor) in the North zone is comprised of a total suspended solids (TSS) score only. Turbidity was not monitored in the North Zone.

Nutrients scored 57.9 (moderate) in the North zone, comprising of ‘very good’ for oxidised nitrogen (NOx), a ‘moderate’ for particulate nitrogen (PN) and a ‘poor’ for particulate phosphorus (PP).

The chlorophyll a score in the North zone is 37.9 (poor).

Using the Photosystem II herbicide equivalent concentrations method, contaminants received a score of 96.0 (very good).


Hover over each segment for indicator scores and data confidence.

The overall coral grade in 2014/15 for the North inshore zone is moderate (44.3).

The coral grade is comprised of the density of juvenile hard corals score of 38 (poor), the macroalgae cover score of 49 (moderate), the coral cover score of 39 (poor), the change in coral cover score of 62 (good), and the coral community composition score of 33 (poor).

The coral scores in the north zone are affected by disease and representation of macroalgae, increases of which have been linked with declining water quality in past years. Slight improvements in coral community condition in 2015 have occurred during drier conditions and correspondingly lower loads of sediments and nutrients delivered to the ocean from the rivers of the North Zone in 2015.

This explanatory information of coral condition in the North zone is based on the Marine Monitoring Program report by Thompson et al. (2016).


Hover over each segment for indicator scores and data confidence.

The overall seagrass grade in 2014/15 for the North inshore zone is ‘poor’ (34.3). The seagrass grade is comprised of the seagrass abundance score of 30.4 (poor), the tissue nutrient score of 31.3 (poor), and reproductive effort score of 21.4 (poor) from the Marine Monitoring Program in addition to the seagrass biomass score of 39 (poor), the meadow area score of 17 (very poor), and sea grass species composition score of 66.7 (good) from the Queensland Ports Seagrass Monitoring Program.

In the North inshore zone rainfall, river discharge and wind exposure during 2014-15 were below long term averages and represent less stressful conditions than in the previous monitoring period, whilst seawater temperatures were above long term averages and were likely to be more stressful than the previous monitoring period.

Seagrass meadows in the North zone are in a vulnerable state with abundance decreasing in some sites (e.g. Low Isles and Green Island subtidal) and increasing at others (e.g. Yule Point) since the previous reporting period. Persistent foundational species have increased at some sites in the North zone (e.g. Yule Point) and have greater capacity to resist environmental stress and therefore such sites may be improving their resilience.

This explanatory information of seagrass condition in the North zone is based on the Marine Monitoring Program report by McKenzie et al. (2016).


Hover over each segment for indicator scores and data confidence.

The fish index is currently under development and will be available in future report cards.

Further information on the methods used to produce the scores and grades and detailed results can be found here.