The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has today welcomed the report of the Senate Committee Inquiry into the management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the concerns expressed about the threat from dredging, dumping and rapid industrialization and called for all parties to support legislation to ban the dumping of dredge spoil in the World Heritage Area.
The Inquiry has called for a suspension on any further dredge spoil dumping approvals in the Reef, consideration of a ban on dumping, tougher application of existing environmental laws, a stop to the cuts in funding to the bodies that research and protect the Reef and a strong plan of action to ensure the health of the Reef into the future.
Felicity Wishart, AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director, welcomed the report and said that port expansion is a looming threat for the Reef with millions of tonnes of proposed dredging, much of which will be dumped in the Reef’s waters.
In addition to the 3 million cubic meters of dredging and dumping proposed for Abbott Point, the list of port developments in the Reef’s inshore waters includes:
– 21 million cubic meters of government approved dredging for Gladstone Harbour;
– 12 million cubic meters for channel duplication in Gladstone Harbour with planned onshore and offshore dredging;
– Plans for a coal port on the northern end of Curtis Island in the Fitzroy Delta;
– A new trans-shipping proposal for Hay Point;
– 10 million cubic meters of dredging proposed for the Townsville Port expansion with plans for 5.7 million to be dumped adjacent to the Marine Park;
– 4.4 million cubic meters of dredging at Trinity Inlet in Cairns;
– A transhipping operation for a coal mine near Princess Charlotte Bay on the Cape.
“Almost all of these developments are being driven by the mining industry,” she said.
“The Inquiry highlights that the science is clear. Dredging and dumping damages the Reef. It clouds the waters, increases coral disease, smothers seagrass beds and corals, ruining the feeding and breeding ground of sensitive Reef species.
“The Government knows this is damaging the Reef. It is putting the interests of the mining industry over the interests of the Great Barrier Reef and the tourism industry it supports.
“It is time for the Federal Environment Minister to introduce laws to minimize dredging and ban dumping of dredge spoil throughout the world heritage listed waters.”