Australia: Industry Backs Up Abbott Point Decision
Queensland’s peak resources sector body has backed the science-based decision of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) to grant dredge permits under strict conditions for the expansion of the Port of Abbott Point.
Chief Executive of the Queensland Resources Council, Michael Roche, says he was always confident that GBRMPA would base the decision on the overwhelming scientific evidence available and the fact that all available evidence shows that port dredging over the past 30 years has not resulted in a permanent negative impact on the reef.
“I’m pleased that GBRMPA has not been swayed by the emotive activists’ campaigns,” said Mr Roche.
“This is not the first decision GBRMPA has had to make in this regard, and it won’t be the last,” he said.
“Dredge sediment won’t be removed from or deposited on the reef, seagrass meadows or any other areas of high conservation value identified by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
“The federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt previously imposed some unprecedented environmental conditions on the dredging project including that 150 percent of the total amount of fine sediments potentially available for re-suspension in the marine environment must be offset by a reduction in the load of fine sediments entering the marine environment from the Burdekin and Don catchments.
“The minister has also imposed a cap of 1.3 million cubic metres of sediment that can be dredged or disposed of in a year and those activities can only be undertaken between 1 March and 30 June each year to protect water quality during critical times for seagrass growth and coral spawning.
“The Great Barrier Reef is an Australian icon that must be protected and governments have rightly set the bar high to ensure that developments along the reef don’t put it at risk.
“It’s unfortunate that the debate over this dredging project has diverted attention from the real risks to the reef which remain poor water quality, the crown of thorns star fish, storm damage and coral bleaching.
“The dredging project goes hand in hand with the development of new coal reserves in the Galilee Basin where proposed projects have a forecast investment of $28.4 billion and would provide more than 15,000 jobs during construction and 13,000 operational jobs.”
Press Release, January 31, 2014