The Australian Marine Conservation Society has expressed alarm at the proposed dredging of 5 million cubic meters of seafloor to make way for bigger cruise ships at the Port of Cairns.
AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director, Felicity Wishart, said the proposed dredging would threaten water quality and important habitat for fish, dugongs and turtles.
The massive dredging operation would risk the natural values of the Great Barrier Reef, the very drawcard relied on by ship operators and other local tourism businesses for their livelihood.
“For tourism, the Great Barrier Reef is like the goose that lays the golden egg,” Ms Wishart said.
“Some Cairns businesses have welcomed plans by P&O to base one of their mid range cruise ships in Cairns in the future.
“However calls by P&O Cruise’s CEO for further dredging to enable bigger cruise ships into Trinity Inlet is concerning.
“I’m surprised that P&O would want to take a gamble with the Reef – tourism is the last industry that can afford to support actions that damage the Reef’s unique natural beauty and wildlife.
“People flock to Cairns as a gateway for their much-anticipated Reef experience, not for a front-row view of dredging.
“Dredging and dumping on this scale will only add to the pressures on an already fragile Reef. This is bad for the environment, tourism and fishers.
“A recent study found dredging can more than double the level of coral disease in tropical reefs.
“Larger cruise ships already have access to Cairns via Yorkey’s Knob without requiring industrial-scale disturbance of the Inlet.
“The push for dredging and dumping is on, up and down the Reef coast. Dumping is an outdated practice which should be banned in the Reef’s waters,” Ms Wishart said.
Press Release, August 14, 2014