AMCS: Industrialisation Threatens Great Barrier Reef’s Turtles (Australia)

Industrialisation Threatens Great Barrier Reef’s Turtles

The Australian Marine Conservation Society and Turtle Island Restoration Network program director Teri Shore have warned the massive port projects and other industrial activity planned for the Great Barrier Reef will push globally significant species of turtles closer to the brink of extinction.

The industrialisation of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area will destroy and degrade critical nesting, feeding or migration habitat for six marine turtle species of international value.

Ms Shore said marine turtles and their habitat are threatened by both direct and indirect impacts of industrialisation, such as dredging, drilling, vessel strikes, fuel and oil spills and water pollution.

The Great Barrier Reef is home to some of the most amazing turtle species in the world who rely on a healthy reef for their future,” Ms Shore said.

The Australian Flatback live entirely in waters close to shore and sandy beaches, making them highly vulnerable to coastal port developments and shipping. Alternatively, Leatherbacks live more in the open ocean where increased ship movements will take their toll through greater injury and death.

“Ship strikes alone have killed 45 turtles in Gladstone Harbour after the Curtis Island LNG project began, compared with an average of two a year in the past decade.

“I’ve just visited Gladstone Harbour this week and I’m concerned the impacts on turtles that we’re seeing there could happen in waters up and down the Barrier Reef coast,” she said.

AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director Felicity Wishart said the cumulative impacts of industrial development on the Reef’s wildlife and coral had not been considered or evaluated.

“The Federal government’s dredging report released on Friday showed the impact of dredging and dumping in the Reef’s waters is much worse than industry and government thought,” Ms Wishart said.

Tourists come from around the world to experience and photograph wildlife like turtles and colourful reef fish, not port developments and dredge plumes.

“This week Environment Minister Mark Butler is expected to make a decision on the TO terminal, a further expansion of the Abbot Point port development, alongside important nesting habitat for the Flatback turtle.

We urge him to consider the considerable impacts on the Reef, its wildlife and local tourism and reject the proposal,” she said.

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Source: marineconservation.org, August 15, 2013

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