Dumping of dredged material in the Great Barrier Reef should be banned, following the Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt ordering that dumping should not be occurring in the World Heritage Area near Gladstone Harbour.
However, the true test for the Minister will come at Abbot Point, where he is considering the approval millions more cubic metres of dredging and dumping in the Marine Park, less than 50kms from the Whitsunday Islands.
Felicity Wishart, the Great Barrier Reef campaign director for the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS), said the Newman Government was racing to industrialise the Reef and the pressure was on the Abbott Government to say no.
“We welcome the legitimate concerns of Minister Hunt about dredging and dumping in the Reef and urge him to apply that approach across the entire World Heritage area, as the true test at Abbot Point is still to come.
“There is simply no justification for Minister Hunt to approve the dredging and dumping at Abbot Point given what we now know about the impacts, including that sediment travels further and causes more damage than previously understood,” Ms Wishart said.
“The looming decision to dredge and dump 3 million cubic metres at Abbot Point to build the world’s largest coal port has local tourism operators and fishers very worried.
“But it should have all Queenslanders worried because the economics don’t seem to stack up and the Federal Minister acknowledges there’s a big problem.
“A recent report by the Centre for Policy Development “Too Many Ports in a Storm” shows the government has been sold a pup by the mining industry who has inflated projections of the amount of port infrastructure needed.
“And to build this infrastructure, they want to dump dredge spoil in the Reef’s waters.
“Are these the sorts of short-cuts that we should be allowing in our World Heritage Areas?
“What we saw in Gladstone was fast tracking developments without properly assessing the risks and it resulted in an environmental disaster.
“It’s time the Federal Government put the health of the Reef first and banned capital dredge dumping in the Reef altogether”, said Ms Wishart.
Press Release, November 19, 2013