Marine Parks, port expansion, endangered species impacts…

Map showing proposed port expansions for coal exports along the Queensland coast inshore from Great Barrier Reef marine park.

A predicted rise in coal exports is expected to produce huge growth in shipping through waters close to the Great Barrier Reef over the next decade. As part of the development, millions of cubic metres of sea floor is being removed from the Great Barrier Reef right now. It’s the largest dredging project ever undertaken in Australia, making way for massive new coal seam gas export facilities.

At least six major port developments are either planned or underway along the Queensland coast inshore from the GBR marine park and reef. Already marine traffic has tripled in some areas, with earlier Environmental impact statements projecting anything from doubling to a multiple of ten times current levels.

Prof Marnie Campbell, chairwoman of a scientific panel monitoring how the development of liquefied natural gas hubs off Gladstone and the resulting increase in vessel traffic will affect marine life around the reef, believes biosecurity is a growing danger.

“There are some things that from my perspective still haven’t really even been addressed,” Professor Campbell said.

“I do a lot of biosecurity work about introduced marine species and really that hasn’t been fully addressed. If you get an increase in vessels moving into this area, there’s more chance of an introduced species coming in.”

That, apart from increased numbers of maritime accidents, threatening known endangered species in small populations, upset of reproductive cycles, and loss of quiet environments. And more that money can’t buy.

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More here and here from ABC 4 Corners investigative report broadcast last Monday night.

Sign GetUp’s online petition to lobby for a halt on major maritime developments around the Great Barrier Reef until the UNESCO  strategic assessment can take place early next year.

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