WWF: Report Confirms the Worst Fears (Australia)

The Fight for the Reef campaign has seized on a new report on the impact of dredging on the Great Barrier Reef as further evidence that the practice of dumping dredge waste should be banned.

Richard Leck, WWF-Australia spokesperson for the Fight for the Reef Campaign said that the report confirms the worst fears for anyone who loves the Reef.

“The impact of dredging and dumping in the Reef’s waters is much worse than industry and government thought,” Mr Leck said.

“Dumping dredge waste in the waters of the Reef World Heritage Area must be banned.”

The report reveals that:

– The latest research on dredge spoil disposal plumes indicates that they are travelling much longer distances and may be impacting sites considerably further away than where material is dumped;

– Since dredge plumes can travel larger distances than originally thought, it is essential that modelling be expanded to include a bigger footprint;

– All Environment Impact Statements done on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park port projects have been extremely conservative in estimating the impact of dredging;

– The coastal geomorphology of a number of existing ports (Cairns, Townsville and Gladstone) means that the amount of maintenance dredging required is likely to double. This would result in an additional 460,000 tonnes of dredge material dumped in the Reef World Heritage Area;

– The projected volume for dredge spoil disposal into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (based on current proposals) totals 43.8 million tonnes (42.4 million tonnes capital and 1.4 million tonnes maintenance), assuming that all proposals are constructed. This could potentially represent a 3,000% increase in volume for disposal over the next 3 years;

– The amount of “fines” (silt and clay particles <35 micrometres in size) in capital dredge material is 30%. If all the proposed projects are approved they could contribute up to 13 million tonnes of additional resuspended sediment to the waters of the Reef over the next 3-5 years.

Felicity Wishart, the Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director for AMCS said the report showed that the impact of the dredging and dumping was greater than had been expected and backed up calls for the Minister to reject the 3 million cubic metres of dredging proposed for Abbot Point.

“This new dredging report is alarming as it shows that the plumes of dredge material spread even greater than first thought,” Ms Wishart said.

This will affect coral, it will affect the water visibility and it will affect the homes of sensitive Reef species.

“We have always been concerned but this report is simply breath-taking in what it reveals. It shows that there is more dredging and dumping required than has previously been considered.

“That means more damage than had been anticipated. It means greater impacts on tourism and fishing.”

Source: marineconservation, August 12, 2013

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