Activists Demand An End to Dredge Dumping

Credit: Schine Buddhaboon

AIRLIE BEACH: Flotilla for the Reef. Photo Credit: Credit: Schine Buddhaboon


Hundreds of activists lined both sea and sand in Townsville and Airlie Beach on Sunday, calling on the government to ban dredge dumping in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

by Rachel Lang

Protestors assembled on land, as a flotilla of kayaks, scuba divers and boats gathered on the ocean with one simple message: to protect the reef from the damaging effects of dumping dredge spoil into the marine park.

Flotilla for the Reef spokesperson, Jacinta Tonkin, said with the reef one of the world’s great natural wonders, it is imperative that the people of North Queensland take action.

“Today’s turnout shows that our community really cares about the Great Barrier Reef and is worried about dredge spoil dumping in the World Heritage Area.”

Last month, the Queensland government proposed that dumping of three million tonnes of dredge spoil could be on land instead of in the ocean.

Former Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Director, Dr. Adam Smith, welcomed the government’s change of heart.

“The good news is the Government is indicating they may not dump dredge spoil in the Marine Park at Abbot Point – but the bad news is other important areas such as the adjacent World Heritage area and Caley Valley wetlands have not yet been subject to planning, protection and world’s best practice management”.

‘Even though the state government has signaled plans to dispose of dredge spoil on land at Abbot Point, we have not seen any commitment to ban dumping at all the other proposed mega industrial port expansions in the World Heritage Area, let alone any concrete plans showing their intentions at Abbot Point’, said Ms. Tonkin.

‘Plans that will require 100 million tonnes of dredging, significant amounts of dumping in Reef waters, and an increase to 7000 ships crossing the Great Barrier Reef each year are still in place’ added Ms. Tonkin.

Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, is yet to approve the proposal to dump dredge soil on land instead of sea.