The Australian Marine Conservation Society calls on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to refuse to issue a permit for dumping 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil in the Reef’s waters until after the findings of an independent inquiry into the Gladstone Harbour dredge project.
The terms of reference for the inquiry into mass deaths of fish, dugongs and other marine life following massive dredging in Gladstone Harbour needs to include the quality of the monitoring programs, impacts of dredging acid sulphate soils, failure of the bund wall designed to retain dredge spoil and issues of port management.
AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director Felicity Wishart said Environment Minister Greg Hunt should revisit his recent decision to approve dredging, dumping and port developments in the reef until the truth about Gladstone was known.
“It’s time the truth came out on the failures of dredging in Gladstone Harbour and lessons learned so it is never allowed to happen again,” Ms Wishart said today.
“Despite stonewalling by the Gladstone Ports Corporation, new evidence keeps being unearthed that raises serious questions about how the project was managed and the risks of dredging.
“In 2011, dead fish, sea turtles and dugongs turned up after dredging commenced and fish disease required fishing bans for weeks. Many locals still refuse to eat fish caught in the area.
“For too long, adverse impacts have been covered up, new research ignored and a huge gamble taken with the health of the Great Barrier Reef and the tourism industry that relies on it.
“GBRMPA needs to refuse to issue a permit for dumping 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil in the Reef’s marine park waters. Until the all the evidence from the Gladstone inquiry is on the table no one can be guarantee that the Reef will be safe.
“The high risk posed by dumping dredge spoil in the Reef’s waters and uncertainty over the full extent of damage leaves GBRMPA little choice but to refuse the issuing of a permit,” Ms Wishart said.
Press Release, January 20, 2014