QRC: Public Misperception Over GBR Threats (Australia)

Public Misperception Over GBR Threats

The peak representative group for Queensland minerals and energy companies has released its latest fact sheet focusing on shipping, ports and co-existence with the Great Barrier Reef.

The fact sheet is the latest component in the ‘Working Alongside the Great Barrier Reef’ public awareness campaign launched last month by the Queensland Resources Council.

Its release coincides with the visit today by Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Michael Roche to the REEFVTS control room in Townsville following meetings yesterday with leading reef researchers at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, south of Townsville.

The (reef) vessel tracking service is a joint initiative of the Queensland and Australian Governments and was established in 1996 using an interactive mandatory ship reporting system, which has been adopted internationally.

Shipping through the Great Barrier Reef is subject to the world’s most stringent reporting and monitoring requirements. Despite a substantial increase in ship movements since 1996, reef groundings fell from one per year to just a single incident in the decade following the introduction of REEFVTS.

The system’s recent southward extension means that all shipping activity on the Great Barrier Reef is now monitored, reducing greatly the likelihood of an industrial shipping incident.

Commercial shipping has been a lifeline for north Queensland for more than a century and it still is with the Port of Townsville described at the weekend as the city’s greatest asset,’ Mr Roche said.

Unfortunately, Townsville and the 10 other commercial ports operating alongside the Great Barrier Reef are the target of environmental activists using any leverage they can to try to shut down Queensland export coal and gas industries.

‘As north Queensland grows, so must the region’s ports and the number of ship calls required to keep it functioning.

‘At the upper end of official forecasts, ship calls could increase from a current 4600 vessels a year to around 6000 by 2020.

‘Half of these ships would be carrying exports of coal and gas while the remainder include passenger ships, those carrying exports of sugar, beef, processed minerals and ships bringing in essential bulk imports such as oil to central and north Queensland communities.

‘This growth is going to occur incrementally, as should the capacity of the environmental protection measures in place.

‘Queensland’s ports and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park have a history of successful co-existence going back to the park’s declaration in 1975.

Mr Roche says some would be surprised to learn the biggest threats do not originate from shipping and dredging, reports abc.net.au.

‘The real risks to the reef come from cyclones, from water quality and from the crown of thorns starfish, not from port development, not from dredging and not from shipping activities,’ he said.

‘As well as supporting the industries that drive the state’s economy – minerals and energy, agriculture and tourism – functioning ports and shipping are essential for the livelihoods and well-being of almost one million Queenslanders who work and live alongside the Great Barrier Reef,’ Mr Roche said.

[mappress]

Press Release, August 20, 2013

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