WWF-Australia has welcomed reports Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney is taking decisive action to stop the dumping of dredge spoil in reef waters at Abbot Point, and urged the Queensland Government to also minimise the dredging operation by backing plans to build longer jetties into deeper water.
The Deputy Premier has reportedly said: “We believe dumping at sea is the environmentally worst option.”
“We welcome Mr Seeney’s acknowledgement that dumping dredge spoil at sea is bad for the reef, a view that is backed by the best scientists and researchers up and down the reef,” WWF-Australia Reef campaigner Richard Leck said.
“We hope this will soon lead to a legislated ban on dumping dredge spoil across the whole Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
“The world’s best reef needs the world’s best protection. Stopping the dumping at Abbot Point is a significant step forward, but the best solution for the Reef is to also minimise dredging by building longer jetties.
“The dredging operation itself will rip up 177 hectares of seagrass habitat and send a muddy plume of pollution into World Heritage waters. “WWF has consistently said that both dredging and dumping damage the Reef and a comprehensive policy is needed that minimises dredging and bans sea-dumping.”
A new policy on dredging and dumping must include:
· A ban on dredge spoil dumping in the entire Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, not just the smaller boundaries of the marine park
· Measures to minimise dredging, which also damages the marine environment
· Standards and guidelines for onshore disposal and beneficial re-use including no dumping in sensitive areas such as wetlands
The Deputy Premier’s statements indicate that the Queensland Government is keen to see a rapid approval of a land-based disposal option.
“Assessments of land-based disposal options should not be fast-tracked,” Mr Leck said.
“The Abbot Point area includes an internationally significant wetland that supports 40,000 water birds including endangered species. This requires a full scientific assessment.
The recently released Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report stated: “… the overall outlook for the Great Barrier Reef is poor, has worsened since 2009, and is expected to further deteriorate in the future … Without promptly reducing threats, there is a serious risk that resilience will not be improved and there will be irreversible declines in the Region’s values.”
“WWF calls on all political leaders to recognise the Great Barrier Reef is in crisis. We must tackle all threats facing the reef, including climate change, agricultural pollution, coastal development and poor fishing practices,” Mr Leck said.
Image: Great Barrier Reef aerial. © Viewfinder Australia Photo Library