CAFNEC Comments Reef Report
Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC) today pointed out that the recently released reef report card 2014 is not good news for the reef.
With reducing land based sediment loads one of the priorities, CAFNEC is questioning how new dredging in Cairns could be even considered as an option.
CAFNEC Marine Programs Coordinator Josh Coates said: “To protect our reef scientists agree that improving water quality is highly important. The reef report card 2015 shows we are currently falling short of what is needed in terms of improvement.”
“This report card shows that progress toward goals including reducing sediment loads is slowing. Many of our farmers and other land managers are doing their bit and there is increased funding but new dredging would make a mockery of this progress,” added Coates.
According to Coates, the report is largely silent on dredging, but makes clear that sediment runoff is a problem for the reef. To say that the sediment stirred up during dredging is somehow different and does not impact the reef would be illogical.
“New capital dredging would suspend large sediment loads regardless of where spoil is dumped and channel expansion would lead to increased annual maintenance dredging. Maintenance dredge spoil is currently dumped in the Marine Park,” said Coates.
“To achieve the water quality improvement targets we need not only funding to reduce land based impacts, but also to ensure that suspension of pollutants from dredging and dumping do not undermine the progress made in the past, and the future. Projects like the Cairns Port dredging proposal cannot be allowed to undermine good work being done by farmers and land managers.”
Coates said that commitment to reef protection must continue and that new dredging in Cairns should be stooped by passing the Ports Bill unamended if “we are to avoid future ‘at risk’ listing.”