It has become apparent to CAFNEC that in 2014 Ports North dumped more dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park than their GBRMPA permit allows for in a normal year.
The dumping permit allows for 350,000 tonnes dry weight or 550,000 cubic meters of wet load dredge spoil to be dumped in the Marine Park each year for maintenance dredging in Cairns Port. This amount was exceeded in 2014.
CAFNEC Marine Programs Coordinator Josh Coates said: “We have become aware that in 2014 Ports North exceeded the amount of maintenance dredge spoil dumping allowed in a normal year. There is an allowance in the permit for extra dumping in response to cyclones and the like, but we didn’t see weather events in 2013-2014 that we think should warrant the activation of these provisions.”
“Regardless of how much exactly was dumped in 2014 it is clear that between 400,000 and 1 million cubic meters of dredge spoil has been dumped from Cairns Port in our Marine Park every year since 1991. This comes at considerable cost to the tax payer and the environment.”
Background information on Cairns maintenance dredging was recently provided to a senate committee inquiry as a response to a question on notice.