New dredge dumping regulations an important step forward for Great Barrier Reef

02 Jun 2015

Keywords
  • great barrier reef
  • climate change

WWF Australia says new Federal regulations that come into effect today, to ban sea-dumping of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, are an important step for the future of the Reef.

“We congratulate the Australian Government for acting on an issue that is of deep concern to the vast majority of Australians," said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O'Gorman.

"It is no longer acceptable to simply use the Reef as a dump, and the Federal law is now in step with community expectations.”

“The next step is for the Queensland Government to extend the ban to cover the entire Reef World Heritage Area, when it introduces new Port Development laws later this week.”

"About 80% of dumping since 2010 has occurred outside the Marine Park but within the World Heritage Area where it can easily drift onto coral and seagrass – that’s why a ban in the full World Heritage Area is essential.

The Australian Government’s intention to ban sea-dumping of dredge spoil in the Marine Park was first announced by Environment Minister Greg Hunt in November last year, and has today become law.

“We are particularly pleased that the new regulation also revokes the controversial permit issued in January 2014 which would have allowed 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil to be dumped offshore for the expansion of the coal port at Abbot Point.

“Tens of thousands of Australians petitioned the Government not to grant that permit, and it sparked an international outcry, so this is a great outcome for all those people who stood up to protect a natural icon”.

“This demonstrates how pressure from the community and the World Heritage Committee can encourage Australian governments to deliver outcomes for the Reef.

“Last Friday the World Heritage Committee’s draft decision on the Reef put Australia on probation.
 
“This ban is an important step in protecting the Reef but significant further action will be need to be delivered in next 18 months before Australia reports back to the World Heritage Committee on progress,” he said.
 
For more information:
Mark Symons, Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571, msymons@wwf.org.au

Notes to editors:

  • Marine Park v World Heritage Area:
  • The marine park does not include about 3,600 square kilometres including port exclusion areas.
  • A ban in the marine park still allows for millions of cubic metres of spoil to be dumped where plumes can easily drift onto coral and seagrass.
  • Of the 10.7 million cubic metres of spoil dumped since 2010, 78% (about 8.4 million cubic metres) has been dumped outside the Marine Park but in the World Heritage Area.

© Sian Breen / WWF-Aus

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