Australia: Rethink Abbot Point Development, Experts Say

Almost 600 of the world’s experts in tropical biology and conservation have called on the Australian Government to reconsider the extended port development at Abbot Point, out of concern for the future of the Great Barrier Reef.

The 51st annual meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) has issued a declaration on behalf of 589 scientists and conservationists from 55 nations.

The declaration applauds Australia’s achievements in protecting the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and its biota, and urges continued leadership and stronger protection.

The Declaration urges the Australian Government to:

– seriously consider the cumulative impacts of port development on the GBR lagoon;

– reconsider the need for the extended development at Abbot point, in light of the environmental cost.

Should the development go ahead, the scientists argue that any marine dumping of dredge spoil must be avoided.

The meeting of world experts has expressed concern about the feasibility of the offset requirement, which provides for a reduction in net sediment input into the GBR Marine Park.

If the development goes ahead, they ask that the Australian Government:

– provide cost details on options for achieving the offset requirement;

– provide confirmation that the development’s proponents are willing to meet these costs;

– provide a process to ensure that the offset requirement is being met and is effective as a mitigation effort.

The conference has also called on Australia to maintain a scientifically robust program for monitoring water quality in catchment rivers and the inshore GBR regions, to track progress towards the recovery and protection of a healthy GBR.

The ATBC, whose membership includes academics, researchers and representatives of NGOs, is meeting in Australia for the first time, hosted by James Cook University.

Press Release, July 25, 2014

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