The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) last week allowed dredge spoil dumping in the Reef for the Abbot Point coal port expansion – a decision that has attracted international attention.
The Australian Government's progress report to UNESCO's World Heritage Committee on the state of conservation of the Great Barrier Reef outlines the progress made in the past 12 months to deliver on its requests concerning the management of the reef, according to QRC CEO Michael Roche.
“The State Party Report again documents the real threats to the reef as being extreme weather events, the potential effects of climate change, the crown of thorns starfish infestations and nutrient and sediment run-off from land clearing and broad-scale agriculture,” he said.
“Flying in the face of the hysterical reaction from some quarters to the granting on Friday of a dredging permit at Abbot Point, the State Party Report identifies impacts from port development and dredging as minor, temporary and localised.”
Roche said the report documented the severe impacts of cyclones and the resultant flood plumes. It also outlined the measures being pursued with industry support to further enhance shipping safety and reduce the environmental impacts of shipping, under the North East Shipping Management Plan.
“Industry also has lent its support to the Queensland government's ports strategy, which restricts any significant port development to existing ports such as Abbot Point and Gladstone,” Roche said
The Greens said they will move for new laws in the federal Parliament to ban offshore dumping in the Great Barrier Reef.
“It's shocking that the authority set up to protect the Great Barrier Reef is allowing another three million cubic metres of sludge to be dumped in its World Heritage waters,” Greens Senator Larissa Waters said.
“The Greens will move new laws in the federal parliament to ban offshore dumping in the Great Barrier Reef.
“The Abbott government shamefully approved the Abbot Point coal terminal expansion, including the dredging and dumping, in December last year.
“Despite the Abbott government's approval, GBRMPA had the power to save the reef from being smothered by the coal port's dredge spoil.
“GBRMPA has today failed to stand up to the Abbott government and the big mining companies for the sake of the World Heritage Area entrusted in its care.”