Geneva, Switzerland – Reckless industrialization alongside the Great Barrier Reef is causing severe damage. Damage to one of Earth’s most important environmental systems. All according to a new report commissioned by WWF. The Great Barrier Reef Under Threat found that the dumping of waste from port expansions. Most noteworthy within its World Heritage-listed boundaries.  This is having “devastating impacts” on the reef.

Stop Dredging

In order to prevent unacceptable new stress on this already-vulnerable ecosystem, WWF is calling on the Australian government to ban all dumping of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Site.

Great Barrier Reef © Xanthe Rivett/CAFNEC/WWF-Aus
© Xanthe Rivett/CAFNEC/WWF-AusE

Port expansion plans call for the dredging of approximately 51 million cubic meters of the ocean floor. This is enough seabed to fill up New York City’s Empire State Building 49 times. Much of that waste could be dumped. All in the Great Barrier Reef’s sensitive World Heritage waters. Consequently where it can cause damaging plumes of sediment that can drift for up to 80 kilometers. Dredging and dumping smothers corals and threaten the survival of endangered species like marine turtles.

Doubling Coal Exports

Australia doubling coal export capacity in the state of Queensland. This is even though the state’s existing coal port capacity sits unused one-third of the time. So the analysis by independent consulting firm Dalberg Global Development Advisors found. Under current plans, Queensland’s coal export capacity would increase to 637 million tons annually. That’s when near-term forecasts predict that Australia as a whole will export significantly less than that.

The coal industry globally appears to be in structural decline. Especially as renewable energy gains ground. So as a result, it is unlikely that all of the proposed coal ports will be needed. Yet the damage to the reef has been done.

If appropriate steps are not taken to reverse the reef’s decline, the area risks being listed as “in danger” by UNESCO. The status of port expansions and the Great Barrier Reef’s overall health will stir controversy.

According to the WWF report, many prominent banks are already backing away from financing coal terminals. Especially in the Great Barrier reef area due to concerns over environmental impacts. WWF urges companies not to invest. As well as fund any project. Especially those that could threaten the Great Barrier Reef. Also it includes any other World Heritage Site.

So the Great Barrier Reef, healthy ocean habitats are engines for sensible economic growth.

Growth that most importantly provides jobs and improve people’s wellbeing.

In conclusion, responsible management of the ocean is essential. Especially to preserving the crucial role of marine ecosystems. For they play more than a role in providing food and jobs for billions. Finally it should be a key feature of any roadmap for a sustainable future.

Posted on 09 February 2015

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