This paper presents a multi-criteria based tool for assessing the relative impact of diffuse-source pollution to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) from the river basins draining into the GBR lagoon. The assessment integrates biophysical and ecological data of water quality and pollutant concentrations with socio-economic information pertaining to non-point source pollution and (potential) pollutant impact. The tool generates scores for each river basin against four criteria, thus profiling the basins and enabling prioritization of management alternatives between and within basins. The results support policy development for pollution control through community participation, scientific data integration and expert knowledge contributed by people from across the catchment. The results specifically provided support for the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan, released in October 2003. The aim of the plan is to provide a framework for reducing discharge of sediment, nutrient and other diffuse-source loads and (potential) impact of that discharge and for prioritising management actions both between and within river basins. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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