The Great Barrier Reef is in a fragile state and must be protected from the additional pressure posed by the fast-growing risk of port expansion, dredging and dumping, according to the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).
AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director Felicity Wishart said the report prepared by NRM bodies into the impact of catchment runoff on water quality in the Reef’s waters confirmed that without urgent action, the Reef would suffer decline.
“The last thing the Reef needs as it struggles with the impacts of farm runoff and climate change is the additional pressure from industrial port expansions, including dredging and dumping planned for the Reef’s waters,” she said.
“The funds which successive governments have invested in improving land use practices and reducing fertilizer and other chemical runoff in the Reef’s catchments risk will be wasted if they don’t deal with protecting it from fast-tracked industrialization.
“Australians, the international community and UNESCO are deeply concerned with the rapid industrialization of the Reef.
“There’s an unprecedented assault of significant threats to the Reef, but neither the Australian nor Queensland governments have demonstrated they understand the scale or urgency of the response required.
“The Queensland Government has a responsibility to protect this globally significant tourism icon but has so far been reluctant to take sufficient action needed for a healthy Reef.
“Any mention of the Great Barrier Reef and its protection was notably absent from Campbell Newman’s launch of the LNP 2015 election campaign in Brisbane over the weekend.
“This is despite tourism operators in the Whitsundays being deeply concerned about dredging and dumping plans at Abbot Point and fishers in Gladstone still seeking compensation from the environmental disaster caused by port expansion there.
“Because the Reef is Queensland’s greatest natural asset, supporting a $6 billion tourism industry and more than 60,000 jobs, there should be policy commitments from all the major parties to put the brakes on industrial port expansion,” said Ms Wishart.