The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) today released a wide-ranging report into the iconic natural values of the Caley Valley wetlands that will be at risk if dredge spoil from expansion of the world’s largest coal port at Abbot Point is dumped there.
Dr Lissa Schindler, AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaigner, said that while it is welcome that the dredge spoil isn’t being dumped into the waters of the Great Barrier Reef, concerns remain that the spoil will be dumped on top of the internationally important wetlands at Abbot Point.
“Wetlands are the natural filters of the Reef. They trap sediment from the land before it runs into the Reef’s waters. Up to 90% of wetlands have already been lost along the Reef’s coast.”
“The Caley Valley wetlands at Abbot Point are both nationally and internationally important as they provide breeding and roosting habitats for over 40,000 waterbirds, including 10 threatened species of waterbirds and migratory shorebirds.”
The report finds that:
- The wetlands are recognized as nationally important under the Directory of Important Wetlands Australia;
- The wetlands fulfill seven of the nine categories for Ramsar Listing, easily satisfying its potential nomination;
- The wetlands are one of the few remaining intact wetland systems between Townsville and Bowen providing an irreplaceable habitat and wildlife corridor for threatened species;
- There are at least six threatened native plant species of state significance within the wetlands;
- It is an important habitat for 22 migratory shorebird species, 4 of which are threatened;
- The wetlands is home to an important population of the endangered Painted Snipe. Less than 1500 of these birds remain;
- 154 species have been recorded in the area and of these at least 24 species are known to breed within the wetlands;
- They are used by many species including Saltwater Crocodile, the Northern Quoll, Coastal Sheathtail Bat, Water Mouse, Single-striped Delma, and Koalas.
“Australia has an international obligation to protect the Caley Valley wetlands, not to turn it into a dumpsite for the mining industry. We’ve seen some of the problems associated with land reclamation in Gladstone when the bund wall leaked toxic sediments into the harbor and the local fishing industry collapsed.”
“These wetlands are part of the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem. They are what make it great -providing a feeding and breeding ground for many of its species. We welcome the government’s plan not to dump dredge spoil from Abbott Point into the waters of the Reef, but land-based dumping must avoid critically important wetlands like Caley Valley,” said Dr Schindler.
Press Release, September 13, 2014