More than 200 scientists have urged the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, responsible for the World Heritage listed area, to reject a major port expansion in north Queensland.
In December, the Environment Minister in Australia’s conservative Liberal-National government, Greg Hunt, gave the go-ahead to the Abbot Point coal terminal expansion at Bowen in north Queensland.
http://econews.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/abbott-point-coal.jpgABC News reports that as a result millions of cubic metres of spoil must be dredged and dumped near the reef for the coal port to be constructed.
The GBRMPA will decide by the end of this week if it will issue a permit for the dredging.
Green groups have strongly opposed the dredging, which they say will threaten the Great Barrier Reef.
The World Heritage listed area is currently being assessed by UNESCO for a change to its listing to that of World Heritage under threat.
http://econews.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/abbot-point-expansion-coal.jpgABC News reports the 233 scientists have signed a letter to authority chairman Dr Russell Reichelt, urging him to reject the dredging plan.
“The best available science makes it very clear that expansion of the port at Abbot Point will have detrimental effects on the Great Barrier Reef,” the letter said.
“Sediment from dredging can smother corals and seagrasses and expose them to poisons and elevated nutrients.”
http://econews.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/University-of-Queensland-scientist-Dr-Selina-Ward.jpgUniversity of Queensland scientist Dr Selina Ward says dredging sediment smothers corals, exposes them to poisons and reduces photosynthesis.
“If the water is not clear, if it’s turbid through too much sediment it cuts down on the amount of light and reduces the amount of growth and health of those corals,” she said.
Dr Ward said research from similar dredging at the Port of Gladstone showed dredge spoil moved much further than previously thought.
“A paper came out in 2012 that showed plumes of sediment can reach the Great Barrier Reef quite easily,” she said.