WWF-Australia has welcomed the Sustainable Port Development Bill – introduced in the Queensland Parliament last evening – as a major step forward in protecting the Reef from rampant industrial development, dredging and dumping.
“With this Bill, the Queensland Government is acting to implement its promise to ban sea-dumping of capital dredge spoil in the entire Reef World Heritage Area,” said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman.
According to O’Gorman, eighty percent of recent dumping has occurred outside the Marine Park but in the World Heritage Area. This Bill will close that loophole putting an end to most dredge spoil sea-dumping for new projects. It will also place strict limits on dredging and port development along the Great Barrier Reef coast.
“Industrialization, dredging and dumping are significant threats to the Reef. The Ports Bill delivers on a number of the Queensland Government’s Reef promises but is silent on two important commitments,” added O’Gorman.
“There is no ban on the highly risky practice of barge-to-ship coal loading, known as trans-shipping. Also, while the Bill bans the sea-dumping of dredge spoil from port-related developments it does not ban the sea-dumping of spoil from other developments such as marinas,” said O’Gorman.
WWF-Australia said that these issues will need to be quickly addressed. The World Heritage Committee has put Australia on probation. UNESCO requires that Australia must report back in 18 months on how it is delivering on its Reef promises.