Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Australia: Dredges will not damage reef
Greenie scaremongering has no scientific basis
The resources and ports sectors continue to defend their dredging practices as safe after the Queensland and federal governments unveiled a long-term Great Barrier Reef management plan.
The plan includes a ban on dumping dredge spoil anywhere in the world heritage area, a limit on port expansion to four sites and targets for reducing sediment, nutrient and pesticide contamination.
It will be a key factor in the UNESCO world heritage committee's decision on whether to list the reef as "in danger" in June this year.
The Greens on Monday urged the federal government to go further after the Australian Coral Reef Society released a report recommending against the expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal in central Queensland.
Top coral reef scientists were presenting a choice between protecting the Great Barrier Reef and developing Queensland's Galilee Basin, Greens senator Larissa Waters said. "In an age of climate change, it's scientifically impossible to do both," she said.
"The Abbott and Palaszczuk government's Reef 2050 Plan for the World Heritage Committee completely ignores the impact of the Galilee Basin coal mines on the reef and other world heritage areas."
Ms Waters said increased shipping through the reef would lead to ocean acidification, more dangerous storms and coral bleaching.
But linking the basin's development to the reef's plight was "a new low point in a campaign of misinformation", GVK Hancock said.
Every reputable analyst agreed that global demand for coal would grow for many decades regardless of the basin's development, spokesman Josh Euler said. "If we as a nation don't develop the Galilee Basin then some other country will develop their equivalent resource," he said.
Mr Euler said this would allow competitors to gain significant financial and employment benefits. "The expansion of the existing Abbot Point Port will not impact the Great Barrier Reef."
The government's plan ignores a science-based approach to dredging, according to Ports Australia.
An unwarranted blanket ban on dredging was placing the long-term viability of the ports system at risk, according to chief executive David Anderson.
"The science has been discarded, and instead the policy has been dictated by an activist ideology, with the complicity of UNESCO, which has swayed these governments," he said.