Friday, January 31, 2014

Australia - Depositing dredged sediments in Great Barrier Reef Marine NP

Life under threat here? 
It was not an unexpected decision. When there is a conflict between development and environment, it’s often the development which will get higher priority. After all, there will be a lot of hue and cry in favour of development; moreover, those birds, animals, plants etc don’t have any voting rights. So it’s easy. Only problem governments have to overcome is the opposition of small group of environmentalists and scientists – easier, compared to public outcry for jobs, income and social security.

Governments elected for 5 years might be more interested in short term benefits than long term consequences - which may come after a couple of decades.

Great Barrier Reef - world's largest coral structure, located on eastern coast of Australia, extends more than 2600 km. These areas are also blessed with coal deposits, whose demand is very high and consumers are located in faraway regions like Asia, Europe, Americas and probably in Africa.

For transporting coal and other minerals, Australia needs a huge, high capacity, deep sea port. Unfortunately, port (Abbot Point) they identified for this purpose is located on above said coastline.

BBC reports that, "Australian authorities have approved a project to dump dredged sediment in the Great Barrier Reef marine NP as part of a project to create one of the world's biggest coal ports."

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee its 37th session (CONVENTION CONCERNING THE PROTECTION OF THE WORLD CULTURAL AND NATURAL HERITAGE: 16-27 June 2013) noted that,

"notes with concern that the impacts of poor water quality and ongoing coastal development on the reef continue and progress toward addressing them is limited...requests the State Party to urgently address these issues, including by making urgent commitments to:

a) Maintain, and increase where necessary financial investment in the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan and associated Reef Rescue measures...
b) Ensure rigorously that development is not permitted if it would impact individually or cumulatively on the OUV of the property, or compromise the Strategic Assessment or the resulting long-term plan for the sustainable development of the property,
c) Ensure that no port developments or associated port infrastructure are permitted outside the existing and long-established major port areas within or adjoining the property,
d) Ensure that the legislation protecting the property remains strong and adequate to maintain and enhance its OUV;"

As the decision is already taken, I can only hope that "strict mitigation measures" pointed out by GBRMPA will be implemented in letter and spirit. Let me remained you - commodity for export is 'Coal' and reef is vulnerable.


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