Australia: Scientists Call for GBR Dredging Ban

A chorus of Australia’s leading coral reef scientists last night called for a ban on the dumping of dredge spoil in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Four Corners special “Battle for the Reef” on ABC TV heard evidence from many respected scientists concerned about the future of the Great Barrier Reef, and the impact of the plans to dump dredge spoil in the World Heritage Area.

Among the many scientists speaking up were:

Professor Terry Hughes – called for a complete ban on dumping of dredge spoil in all waters of the Reef. He said there is now mounting evidence that fine particles from sediment can travel across the Reef, up to 100km or more;

Dr Charlie Veron – said GBRMPA’s decision to allow the dumping of 3 million cubic meters of dredge spoil had to be political, rather than being supported by science;

Jon Brodie – said the proposed dredging and dumping at Abbot Point was the quickest, dirtiest and cheapest option;

Jon Day – said “we should not be dumping dredge spoil in the marine park”.

WWF-Australia spokesperson Richard Leck said scientists have been ignored for far too long when it comes to their warnings about dredging and dumping in the Reef’s waters.

Just last week, the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report confirmed that port activity, including the dumping of dredge spoil in Reef waters, is contributing to the water pollution problems afflicting the Reef’s fragile ecosystem.

“That’s why we continue to stand with scientists in calling for a ban on dumping in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

“Such a move by our Government would be a victory not just for common sense and people power, but also for science.”

AMCS spokesperson Felicity Wishart called on Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt to back up his statements on last night’s Four Corners, that he had drawn a line in the sand and was stopping further capital dredge spoil dumping in the Marine Park.

“There are applications being assessed right now for large dredging and dumping projects off Cairns, Townsville, and Gladstone. The Minister needs to explain specifically how he will prevent those projects going ahead and spreading mud and silt in Reef waters.

“If Minister Hunt is serious about taking action, he should take tonight’s clear scientific advice and ban dumping in the entire World Heritage Area, and not just in the much smaller area of the Marine Park.

“The Great Barrier Reef needs a champion – the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority needs to be stronger and more independent.

“The foremost purpose of the Authority should be the conservation and restoration of the Great Barrier Reef. Politics should never be a consideration.“

Press Release, August 19, 2014

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