Fight for the Reef campaigners have welcomed the decision by the World Heritage Committee to maintain pressure on Australia to improve protection of the Great Barrier Reef and address threats from industrial port development, dredging, dumping, and poor water quality.
The World Heritage Committee is holding its annual meeting in Doha, Qatar this week and for the third year in a row the issue of Australia’s poor record in managing industrial port developments along the Reef coast has been on the agenda.
“The World Heritage Committee has resisted intense pressure from the Australian and Queensland Governments to water down its decision on the Reef,” said WWF-Australia Reef campaigner Richard Leck. “Instead, the Committee has put Australia firmly on notice to take stronger action to protect the Great Barrier Reef.”
At its annual meeting the World Heritage Committee came to the decision:
– Kept alive the threat to list the Great Barrier Reef as “world heritage in danger” in 2015;
– The committee expressed concern and regret over the government’s decision to allow the dumping of 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil in Reef waters at Abbot Point;
– The committee indicated that the handover of federal environmental approval powers to the Queensland Government is premature.
“The Australian and Queensland Governments must take responsibility, lift their game and improve management of the Reef,” Mr Leck said. “If not they face the shame of having the Reef declared “world heritage in danger” in 2015, putting at risk thousands of tourism jobs.”
Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director with AMCS Felicity Wishart said: “It’s clear that Australia must take concrete action if we are to avoid seeing the Reef listed as ‘in-danger’ when the World Heritage Committee meets again in Germany this time next year.”
“The first step must be to immediately ban the dumping of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Dredging and dumping for new port developments pollutes Reef waters, and the majority of Australians want to see an end to this out-dated practice.”
Press Release, June 19, 2014