Australia: Senate Urged to End Dump on Fragile Reef
The Australian Marine Conservation Society has welcomed a Senate Bill to be introduced by Queensland Greens MP Larissa Waters this afternoon that calls on the Government to acknowledge community views and scientific evidence and to reject the Abbot Point dredging plan.
The Bill seeks Senate recognition of concerns from Great Barrier Reef dive operators, charter boat companies, tourism operators, scientists, the Australian community and the World Heritage Committee about the destructive dredging and offshore dumping proposed as part of the Abbot Point coal port expansion.
AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director, Felicity Wishart, said it was a test for the new Federal government, whether they were intent on aiding the Newman Government to fast-track industrialisation of the Reef.
“Four in every five Australians want dredging and dumping banned in the Reef’s waters,” Ms Wishart said today.
“Yet plans for Abbot Point to become the biggest coal port in the world, on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef continue, This will require millions of tonnes of dredge spoil to be dumped only 50km from the Whitsundays.
“The governments’ own Strategic Assessment report shows a shocking decline in Reef health and substantial new dumping of dredge spoil will only make it worse.
“Coral reefs and seagrass meadows are in decline and populations of highly vulnerable marine life, such as inshore dolphins and dugongs, are feeling the pressure.
“An economic report released by the Centre for Policy Development last week reveals Queensland ports are operating at 65% capacity and questions the need for more port expansion until 2017, at the earliest.
“Dredging and dumping for ports that aren’t needed is a bad investment for our environment and economy. It jeopardises the $6 billion tourism industry and 63,000 jobs that rely on a healthy reef.
“Tourism operators from Airlie Beach and surrounds are meeting today with representatives from all three levels of government and various authorities. They want to discuss the declining local water quality surrounding the Reef and the role of past and future impacts of dredging.
“Some tourism operators have already called for a ban on dumping dredge spoil in the Reef’s waters until long-term impacts are taken into account. Tourists will not travel across the world to see a huge coal port or a sick reef.
“It’s time our political leaders listened to the scientists, tourism operators, World Heritage Committee and concerned community members and put the Reef first,” Ms Wishart said.
Press Release, November 14, 2013