wet tropics report card 2023



The Wet Tropics Report Card assesses the condition of the region’s nine catchments and eight estuaries, as well as the inshore marine and offshore marine zones.  

The annual reporting periods align with financial years (1st July to 30th June), with eight consecutive reports now covering the period from 2014-15 to 2021-22. The grades in the Report Card are developed by analysing and integrating scientific monitoring data contributed by many organisations.

Wet Tropics Waterways is continually refining the assessment to include new indicators and methods that fill known knowledge gaps. 

Basin and estuary monitoring includes an assessment of various indicators of water quality, habitat/hydrology and fish. This monitoring occurs at:

Assessment of the health of North, Central, South, and Palm Island inshore marine zones is based on water quality, coral and seagrass health, while a single offshore marine site is assessed based on water quality and coral.

Report Card Improvements and Upgrades

Since the pilot report card was released in 2016, Wet Tropics Waterways has been addressing monitoring gaps. 

Improvements made in 2021-22:

  • Reporting on mangrove condition included a further two estuaries with reporting of the mangrove habitat indicator now conducted for seven out of the eight estuary zones.
  • The estuary fish barrier assessment was updated for the Daintree, Dickson Inlet and Barron estuary zones.
  • Mangrove and saltmarsh extent and riparian extent were updated for all estuary zones from the most recent Regional Ecosystem mapping conducted by Queensland Herbarium.

Improvements made in 2020-21:

  • Reporting on mangrove condition commenced for five of the eight estuaries with the introduction of the shoreline mangrove habitat indicator.

Improvements made in 2019-20:

  • The addition of base-flow water quality monitoring for the Daintree River operated by Douglas Shire Council.
  • The expansion of the freshwater fish assessments to all basins except the Daintree.

Improvements made in 2018-19:

  • Water quality monitoring site added in the Murray River. All nine basins are now monitored for end of system water quality.
  • Data for mangrove, saltmarsh and estuarine riparian extent were updated from the most recent regional ecosystem mapping conducted by Queensland Herbarium.

Improvements made in 2017-18:

  • The number of pesticides was increased from 13 to 22 for basins and estuaries and to 19 for inshore marine. 
  • Pesticide assessment was expanded from solely PSII inhibiting herbicides to include additional herbicide types and insecticides.  
  • Inshore marine pesticide assessment was updated to align with the basin and estuary pesticide risk assessment based on percent species protected. 
  • Basin (freshwater) water quality reporting commenced for the Daintree and Mossman.  
  • Wetland extent results for basins were updated from the most recent Regional Ecosystem and wetland mapping conducted by Queensland Herbarium.
  • Freshwater fish reporting was introduced for the Mulgrave and Russell basins.   

Improvements made prior to 2017-18:

  • 2016-17: Additional estuary water quality monitoring zone; additional indicator for stream flows in basins and estuaries.  
  • 2015-16: Additional estuary water quality monitoring zones; additional indicators for fish barriers in estuaries and for aquatic weeds in basins. 

We now have a comprehensive picture of the current condition of our waterways and we are in a good position to track trends in the health of our estuaries, freshwaters and marine zones to see how they are responding to the community’s ‘stewardship’ efforts. For presentation purposes scores are rounded down to whole numbers.   

More detailed information on the grades and the methods used to generate them is available on this site and in the methods and results reports below:    Download the Report Card PDF for online viewing or printing:

wet tropics report card


Detections of Imidacloprid (an insecticide) were the lowest since the first report card in 2016.

Seagrass condition in estuaries has still not recovered well from Cyclone Yasi in 2011. 

A second round of assessment under the Urban Stewardship Framework graded the Wet Tropics a ‘B’ overall.

The mangrove condition indicator has been expanded to the Moresby and Hinchinbrook Channel. 

Trinity Inlet is consistently the poorest estuary for dissolved oxygen due to polluted stormwater in urban areas. 

Fish barrier assessments have been updated for the Daintree, Dickson Inlet and Barron estuaries. 



very good








very poor

insufficient data

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






indicators and confidence



indicators and confidence


Inshore marine

indicators and confidence


Offshore marine

indicators and confidence



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For more detailed information on the grades and the methods used to generate them please refer to the following reports: 

wet tropics report card results 2023