GREAT BARRIER REEF DREDGING DAMAGE
There are proposed expansions in at least four of the 12 Queensland ports along the coastline of the Great Barrier reef including, new berths, new trestles, Great Barrier Reef Dredging channels and land based development.
Great Barrier Reef Dredging Proposals include a major expansion of the coal export infrastructure at Abbot Point, new port facilities at Dudgeon Point. The Port of Townsville is expanding with a proposed 100 hectare reclamation to accommodate six addition berths.
Three proposals for the development of new ports on previously undeveloped sites at Wongai ( Bathurst Bay, Cape York, Fitzroy Terminal ( in the vicinity of Port Alma) and Balaclava Island ( near Curtis Island).
The construction of the world’s largest LNG Terminal in Gladstone with a second shipping channel is in the works.
Governments and the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority under-estimate the amount of dredge spoil which will be dumped as a result of a go ahead for these proposals. The total amount is likely to be in excess of 60 million cubic metres.
The damage which dredging of the seabed creates is summed up by the CEO of the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority, Russell Reichelt who has stated that the Authority expressed extreme concerns to the Federal Government about the development of a LNG Gas Hub and associated dredging operation at Curtis Island off Gladstone.
“It is the largest dredging operation ever undertaken in the World Heritage area, and part of the spoil will be taken out to sea to a dump site within one kilometre of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Marine life is already under enormous stress in the area from this year’s floods and Cyclone Yasi, which have caused a record number of dugong and turtle strandings as well as significant damage to seagrass beds. Our concerns filled many pages – and were related to any potential spill over into the marine park of dredging activity, the impact on migratory species, humpback dolphin, indo-pacifics and snubfin dolphins.“
And here’s a quote from the Gladstone Ports Corporation in support of its efforts to gain approval for a second shipping channel in Gladstone Harbour;
“..dredging activities are likely to have both indirect and direct impacts.Potential impacts to the GBRMP that may occur as a result of channel duplication works include:-
- Eutrophication as a result of potential sediment plumes resulting from disposal activities
- coral bleaching and reduction of benthic assemblages due to reduced light infiltration as a result of sediment plumes
- Reduced food for marine fauna
- Subsequent loss of localised biodiversity as a result of increased turbidity during works.
- death from dredging and piling operation
- sedimentation of habitat from dredging leading to dieback of seagrass and other benthic habitats
- potential noise impacts associated with dredging, piling and blasting activities
- a reduction in food resources as a result of sediment plumes from dredging
- degradation to potential preferred habitat from sediment plumes