A strong risk-based framework for sustainable maintenance dredging of Queensland ports, aimed to ensure protection of the Great Barrier Reef, has been announced by the government.
The Maintenance Dredging Strategy for Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area Ports was jointly released by Ports Minister Mark Bailey and Minister for the Great Barrier Reef Steven Miles, meeting an important election commitment and key action under the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan.
“The strategy is an important action that demonstrates our focus on maintaining and improving the Great Barrier Reef’s Outstanding Universal Value,” Mr Bailey said.
Dr Miles said that the strategy stood alongside the Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015, and the delivery of many other commitments under the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan.
“It requires ports in the Great Barrier Reef to consult with stakeholders to develop long-term management plans based on a sound knowledge of the environment in which ports operate,” Dr Miles said. “Management and monitoring measures will ensure maintenance dredging continues in an environmentally sustainable manner.”
Mr Bailey added that the strategy supports and complements existing laws and guidelines making clear the framework and practices applying to maintenance dredging.
“This will bring further improvements in the way ports undertake the vital maintenance of channels, berths and basins and will require increased consultation with stakeholders,” Mr Bailey said. “We are improving transparency and consistency in the way ports select management options, and undertake maintenance dredging.”
According to Dr Miles, the framework improved levels of consultation, monitoring and reporting to ensure Queensland’s valuable environmental assets are offered the best protection through a risk management approach.
“The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is working with port authorities and the Department of Transport and Main Roads to ensure that all new and existing environmental authorities will comply with the strategy,” he said.
The strategy was developed with feedback from industry groups, Queensland and Australian Government regulators, environmental groups and scientific experts.