Australia: Opposition Grows for Great Barrier Reef Dredging
Almost 75,000 Australians have signed a petition calling on UNESCO to intervene and help put a stop to dredging in the Great Barrier Reef.
Lobby group GetUp will present the petition to a UNESCO official in Paris on Wednesday on behalf of the 74,708 Australians who signed it.
Their concerns centre around an approval to dredge 46 million cubic metres, the equivalent of about 27 MCGs, over the next 20 years within Gladstone Harbour, which is inside the World Heritage area of the reef.
So far, 1.5 million cubic metres has been dredged to make way for two LNG projects, export hubs on Curtis Island and an expansion of the port itself.
But there have already been environmental concerns, with marine life getting sick en-masse, which prompted a three-week ban on fishing in September.
UNESCO is coming to Australia in March to assess the situation.
The World Heritage Committee is extremely concerned about the dredging and has already warned it might jeopardise the reef’s heritage status.
“There has been a massive spike in marine wildlife deaths, such as dugongs, dolphins and turtle, and dredging has diminished local sea grass which is critical…” GetUp member Lincoln Siliakus said in a statement.
He is personally delivering the petition to UNESCO special projects unit chief Guy Debonnet.
It reads: Immediately halt all dredging in the Gladstone Harbour and Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, and not to approve any major coastal developments until the UNESCO strategic assessment has been completed.
GetUp hopes UNESCO can use its influence to pressure the federal government into stopping the dredging and revoking the approval.
Dredging Today Staff, December 13, 2011; Image: westernbasinportdevelopment