The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) calls for Environment Minister Greg Hunt to guarantee the claim he has drawn a “line in the sand” on future dredging by introducing limits on dredging and a ban on dumping in the Great Barrier Reef’s waters.
The 2014 Reef Outlook Report, released this week, highlighted dumping of dredge spoil as a high risk to the Reef’s values – water quality, coral and other marine life.
The Minister’s comments in the media that he has reduced the number of dredging projects and stopped some proposed dumping do not add up.
“At the moment there are plans for port expansions that would require at least 90 million tonnes of dredging in the Reef’s waters,” said Felicity Wishart, AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director.
“This is dredging and dumping on a scale previously unheard of for the Great Barrier Reef. It will add to the pressures on an already fragile Reef.
“Scientists told a recent Senate Committee hearing in Brisbane that the Reef is in the worst state it’s been in since records began.
“The Minister must back up his assurances that he is reducing the threat from dredging with a complete ban on dumping dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef’s waters.
“We don’t believe there’s a place for major new dredging and dumping in the waters of one of the most important national assets in Australia. There’s a $6 billion tourism industry that relies on a healthy reef.
“Tourism operators in the Whitsundays abide by tough measures to keep their activities from damaging the Reef, while Minister Hunt approved 3 million tonnes of dredging at Abbot Point, just 50 kilometres to the north.
“Building new ports and allowing more dredging and dumping is not going to protect the Reef and keep it off the World Heritage ‘in danger’ list.
“This is a crucial time for the Minister to take a stand for the Reef’s long-term protection, before it’s too late,” Ms Wishart said.