AMCS: Time to Get to Bottom of Dredging Impacts (Australia)

Time to Get to Bottom of Dredging Impacts

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) is urging the Queensland and Australian Governments to make public all of the scientific evidence about the impacts of dredging and dumping on the Great Barrier Reef.

Felicity Wishart, the AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director, said that it appeared the true impacts of dredging and dumping on the Great Barrier Reef were not being taken into account when considering approvals for mega ports.

“Some research is being ignored. In other cases it is simply not being conducted. It’s a cavalier approach to take with one of the wonders of the world.

“Plans for dredging at Abbot Point are a case in point. The North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation were clearly not guided by adequate science nor research when they proposed dumping on a war grave, a prime commercial fishing ground and close to the delicate coral reefs at Holbourne Island.

“After the community challenged the proposed dredge spoil dump site, the local fishermen were handed a map and asked to select where they thought the dredge should go.

“Now the Queensland government-owned ports corporation is asking the Australian government to approve the project to dredge millions of tonnes of seabed without any exact location for where it will be dumped. It’s a farce.

“It is crucial that the public is made aware of all evidence around the impact of dredging now.

“In Gladstone, recent dredging resulted in sediment plumes spreading over 30 kms, far further than the ports corporation predicted.

“Through Senate Estimates, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has just revealed that new dredge plume models show the sediment spreads out onto the Reef far beyond the claims made by developers.

“This throws into question all the port expansion plans up and down the Reef. Where is the data? What are the facts? Are the state and federal government receiving inadequate advice or ignoring proper advice?

“Claims by successive governments that they are being guided by the best available science is wearing thin. There are major dredging plans for port and channel expansion right now in Cairns, Townsville, near Bowen, Mackay, Yeppoon and Gladstone.

“The public has a right to know exactly where the millions of tonnes of dredged seabed is going to end up and how much damage it will cause to the corals and marine life of Reef, the life blood for a $6 billion tourism industry.”

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Press Release, May 29, 2013

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