AMCS: Coalition Policy Falls Short (Australia)

Coalition Policy Falls Short

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has said while there are positive elements to the Coalition’s Great Barrier Reef policy announced today, it falls short of what’s needed to protect the Reef from rapid industrialisation and has urged the Coalition to go further.

Felicity Wishart, the Great Barrier Reef campaign director for AMCS, said the Coalition must not ignore the science, the World Heritage Committee and the concerned public with their Great Barrier Reef policy.

“The new emerging threat to the Reef’s coastline is mega port development, dredging, dumping and increased shipping. The public knows it. UNESCO knows it. Scientists know it. And fishermen know it. But the Coalition has ignored this,” Ms Wishart said today.

The World Heritage Committee has called for new developments such as major ports to stop until there can be a proper assessment of the environmental impacts.

“Hundreds of Australian scientists have called for the issue of over-development through increased ports, shipping and dredging to be stopped.

“90 per cent of the public wants the Reef protected. Three quarters of Queenslanders want dumping of dredge spoil banned. The Coalition must respond to these concerns.

“We welcome the Coalition’s commitment for an additional $40 million ‘Reef Trust’, and commitments about water quality, Crown of thorns starfish and turtles and dugongs. However, the major concern of the public who live along the Reef’s coast is port expansion and industrialisation.

“The water quality and future for threatened populations of turtle and dugong will be undermined if dredging and dumping in the Reef’s waters destroy the seagrass meadows they rely upon.

“Yesterday Tony Abbott suggested it was better not to develop new ports in areas of high environmental value. We welcome these words – we urge the Coalition to enshrine them with a commitment to guarantee no port expansion in the untrammelled region of Keppel Bay and the northern end of Curtis Island.

“The Coalition has been promising a far reaching vision for over a year to address the concerns of the World Heritage Committee. This policy has fallen short, but there is still time.

“A commitment to ban dumping of dredge material in the Reef’s waters would make the Coalition’s Reef policy one worth celebrating,” said Ms Wishart.

[mappress]

Press Release, September 2, 2013

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