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Great Barrier Reef dredge dumping decision raises international criticism According to the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS), government pressure on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) forced it to approve the permit for dumping 5 million tonnes of dredge spoil from the Abbot Point coal Port into the Reef’s waters despite knowing better options were available. Abbot Point is to become the world’s largest coal port. Former GBRMPA chairman, Graeme Kelleher, has expressed deep ecological reservations about the approval and current chairman of the Reef authority, Russell Reichelt also expressed grave concerns and told reporters this week he would have preferred an alternative to the approved dump site. AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director Felicity Wishart was sceptical about Government assurances of ‘improved’ reef protection, its latest decision highlighted it was not a priority for the government. “Two days after it approved dumping millions of tonnes of dredge spoil in the Reef’s marine park, the Federal government told the World Heritage Committee it had made substantial progress in the protection of the Reef,” Ms Wishart said. “I’m not sure how having GBRMPA issue a permit for a site that North Queensland Bulk Ports and the agency’s own chairman didn’t want, and will likely be rejected by the proponent can be seen as a move forwards.” “Short-term decisions are still being made about industrialisation of the Reef, despite the long-term and potentially irreversible impacts on its health, tourism operators, fishers and local communities,” she said. International media coverage of the Government’s approval of dumping dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef waters has been overwhelmingly critical of the decision. On Tuesday, the lead story on Independent UK online questioned whether the Abbot government was the most environmentally-unfriendly in the World. “What we’ve seen this week is people around the world united in concern about the scale and impact of dredging and dumping in the Reef’s waters,” Ms Wishart said. “The vast majority of Australians and the global community do not want to see the Reef turned into an industrial park and a shipping super highway.” “It’s time for the Queensland and Australian governments to change their attitude and start standing up for the Reef’s natural environment, livelihoods of Reef-related tourism operators and communities,” she said. Source : Feb 7, 2014 - Abbot Point Media Releases

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