For Immediate Release
Elsa Evers, Communications & Media Relations Officer, Greenpeace Australia Pacific, +61 (0) 438 204 041
Shani Tager, Queensland Climate & Energy Team Member, +61 (0) 432 050 809
Hunt’s proposed Dredge Waste Ban a Bandaid, Not a Cure for Threats Against Reef
SYDNEY - In response to Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s announcement of a draft law to ban the dumping of capital dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Shani Tager at Greenpeace Australia made the following statement:
“The Great Barrier Reef is an Australian icon, a natural wonder, and it’s a national disgrace the way this government is failing to offer long-term protection to the Reef. The only way to protect the Reef is for the government to massively step up its conservation efforts, and abandon plans for destructive industrialisation such as coal port expansions.
"Banning dumping in the marine park will not protect the Reef from the massive coal port expansions in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The expansion of Abbot Point port requires extensive dredging that will destroy dugong habitat, and the port will send hundreds of coal ships ploughing through the Reef each year and contribute to climate change.
"World Heritage body UNESCO recommended that Australia should not approve any new port developments that would be detrimental to the Reef’s world heritage values back in 2012. Why has it taken the government so long to respond to just a fraction of the issue? This draft law is an attempt by Minister Hunt to try and save face while still allowing the massive coal mining expansions planned near the Reef, plans that will only worsen the impacts of climate change."
The proposed ban on the dumping of capital dredge spoil does not apply to the entire World Heritage Area, which is larger than the Marine Park. The majority of dredge spoil dumping takes place outside the marine park, within the World Heritage Area.
Capital dredge spoil could still be disposed of within the World Heritage Area at Cairns, Townsville, Gladstone and Abbot Point. Dredging itself - irrespective of where the waste is dumped- affects water quality, and negatively impacts seagrass, coral, turtles, dugongs, fish and other marine populations.
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