The Australian Marine Conservation Society and The Cairns and Far North Environment Center have called on the Queensland Government to oppose any changes to the Sustainable Port Development Bill that would list the port of Cairns as a ‘priority port’ and allow new dredging.
“The fact that over one hundred Cairns and Far North businesses have put their names to this open letter sends a clear message to the major parties that industrial ‘priority port’ listing for Cairns is not broadly supported,” said Josh Coates from CAFNEC.
“With the Ports Bill set to be voted on in parliament very soon most are pleased to see the Government is so far sticking to it’s guns and ruling out industrial port status for Cairns.
“The Ports Bill only restricts large scale channel dredging and will not affect our ability to provide for our important reef tourism fleet into the future.
“The Sustainable Ports Development Bill as it stands fulfills our promise to the World Heritage Committee to limit new dredging to only a few bulk commodity ports under the Reef 2050 plan. The push from vested interests to list Cairns and Mourilyan as industrial ports is misguided and puts our reputation as Reef stewards in danger.”
AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaigner Cherry Muddle added that the local businesses are clearly concerned about the prospect of Cairns being turned into a priority port and the impact that will have on local jobs and the tourism industry.
A James Cook University report found that dredging for bigger channels is not necessary for the Cairns’ economy to see the benefits of the cruise ship industry, concluded Muddle.