- all existing major projects operating within reef catchments
- all major projects in the planning application and development phase that are within reef catchments
- all projects that have state Significant Project declaration
- the cumulative impacts of all developments
- the impacts of potential development must be overlayed on existing Reef health and the likely impacts of climate change to determine what is sustainable.
- provide support to regional communities to ensure active participation in the planning and approval process of major projects (IAP2).
- and finally, the assessment must include the full length of the Reef coastline
- an immediate halt to all dredging in Gladstone Harbour – for LNG facility projects and port facility projects
- no further development approvals are given until the Australian Governments Strategic Environmental Assessment is complete
- public release of all agency (DERM, Bio Security Queensland, DEEDI, Qld Health and the Gladstone Port Authority) scientific study information on the recent fish kill and public health impacts in and around Gladstone Harbour development area
- fund an independent scientific research and reports that have an ecosystem and human health focus on water quality, sediment quality, fish health, marine mega-fauna
Australians coal and gas bubble has placed unprecedented pressure on the Great Barrier Reef, terrestrial ecosystems, freshwater ecosystems & their quality and health. In June 2011 the Australian Government was requested by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee to ‘please explain’ why it should be able to maintain World Heritage declaration over the Great Barrier Reef due to the reported risks and pressure from the Gladstone CSG (LNG) projects and expansion.
Gladstone and the Fitzroy River Delta sit with the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area. It is a declared dugong protection area providing crucial connectivity for genetic migration between the main northern populations and the southerly extent of its range. It is a supporting habitat for the endangered Snub Fin Dolphin. Rodd’s Bay Dungong Sanctuary is located in Gladstone Harbour and extends south to Rodds Bay.
Recent dredging of Gladstone Harbour has coincided with in 231 turtles strandings, ten dugong deaths and six dolphin deaths (at 9 Nov 2011), which accounts for a sizable increase over previous years. In recent months fish species in the area have been impacted by ‘red spot’ like disease resulting in closure of the fishing zone around Gladstone and Curtis Island. The unprecedented, massive dredging campaign underway represents a clear and present contributing factor.
The recent dredging involved disturbance of close to 1.5 million cubic meters (at 24 Oct 2011) of acid sulphate sensitive material which is being dumped out at sea. This forms just 6% of 25 million cubic metres expected. The sediments had sequestered a historic legacy of Gladstone’s industrial history, heavy metals, fugitive coal dust, power station fly-ash, tailings leach and runoff, industrial cleaning services dumping etc. Now resuspended in the harbour’s water.
On 7 November 2011 ABC’s 4 Corners program will scene 'Great Barrier Grief' to report on the health of the reef and current and future impacts expected from the coal and CSG expansion bubble. The report caused high levels of concern by the viewing public and enabled ongoing and in-depth media coverage and analysis. Tourism industry, conservation groups and Fisher groups maximised media coverage beyond the 4 Corners report that lead to two unsuccessful Australian Senate motions calling for the dredging to be halted.
The Australian Government is to report back to UNESCO by February 2012 on its progress forming a Strategic Environmental Assessment. The Terms of Reference for the investigation has been developed by Minister Burke's Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities in partnership with Queensland Government Departments DERM (Qld Minister Vicky Darling) and DEEDI with agreement from the Queensland Cabinet.
Although yet to be made available for public comment, the Terms of Reference for the Strategic Environmental Assessment is to exclude all development projects approved and those currently in the application phase. In simple terms, the Strategic Environmental Assessment will not investigate the impact to the reef from any projects identified by the World Heritage Committee or that have been approved (Gladstone) or in the application process (Fitzroy River Delta). Apart from Gladstone area this includes other major coal ports such as Abbott Point.
Image Source c/o GPC