The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Interpretive Statement on dredge material management raises renewed caution about the need for additional scientific evidence on the full impact of dumping and dredging in the Reef’s waters.
The statement reads in part, “The reports highlight to GBRMPA and the Department of the Environment the need to establish scientific consensus about the movement and impacts of, dredging and dredge material disposal.”
It also emphasises that modelling focuses only on dredge material dumping sites and does not take assess the combined impacts of dredging and dumping, which could together create bigger plumes.
Australian Marine Conservation Society, Great Barrier Reef campaign director, Felicity Wishart said Australian governments were playing Russian roulette with dredging and dumping in the Reef’s waters.
“The GBRMPA Interpretive Statement shows the Reef is in poor health and getting worse,” Ms Wishart said.
“Yet there are plans for 43 million cubic metres of dredging in the Reef’s waters without any idea how destructive its impacts will be, or whether the system can even take any more.
“No reasonable person could suggest further impacts on fragile coral, seagrass and threatened species such as dugongs would be good for the Reef and the $6 billion tourism industry that relies on it.
“Australian governments should not ignore the dangers of pushing ahead with large-scale industrial activity on the Reef coast.
“The Great Barrier Reef must be considered as a whole system, as impacts from dumping and dredging will only add to the challenges of run-off and poor water quality.
“In coming weeks Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt will make a decision on 3 million cubic metres of dumping and dredging in the Reef’s waters off Abbot Point.
“The choice is clear. He should pause approval of all dumping and dredging plans along the Reef coast until the facts are in and the cumulative impacts across the whole Reef can be properly evaluated,” Ms Wishart said.
Press Release, December 2, 2013