First it is the culling of large sharks including the great white, and now it is the dumping of dredge sludge onto the Great Barrier Reef. What are the Aussies thinking?
In spite of dire warnings from Australian conservationists and former marine park officials, the Australian government has let stand a decision to continue the dumping of dredged sediment, called spoil Down Under, onto the Great Barrier Reef, Radio Australia reports.
Tridacna gigas with diver on the Great Barrier Reef. Photo by Wikipedia.
According to the report, the Great Barrier Reef is the most popular natural icon in the country and the approval of the dredge spoil in the marine park will kill the reef, said Jon Day, who was until recently the director of Conservation Biodiversity and World Heritage at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). Day said that the dumping of the dredge spoil will further contribute to the decline of the reef by stressing the animals that get covered by the spoil. The GBRMPA approved a plan in January 2014 to dump more than 3 million cubic meters of the dredge spoil inside the marine park in order to expand the coal port at Abbot Point. That decision had been widely panned by senior marine scientists. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee also criticized the plan. The reef is under consideration by the heritage committee to be labeled as “in danger” in 2015.
Day told Radio Australia that alternative methods of disposing of the dredge sludge were not properly considered and says the dumping will further the stress already experienced by the reef due to agricultural runoff, overfishing and bad weather. In spite of the current dumping, Greg Hunt, Australia’s Federal Environment Minister said this would be the last time that the Great Barrier Reef is used as a dumping ground on his watch. But that may be too little too late. Efforts are underway to stop the continued dumping of the dredge sludge onto the reef. Hunt told Radio Australia that four proposals to dump on the reef that were submitted prior to his term have been denied.