Media Release Fight For Our Reef

Proposal for 1 million cubic metres of dredging threatens vulnerable Great Barrier Reef

July 13, 2017

The Environmental Impact Statement for the Ports North Cairns Shipping Development Project has been released, which would see 1 million cubic metres of dredging proposed for Trinity Inlet near Cairns. The Australian Marine Conservation Society has criticised the government for allowing the project to progress despite the Great Barrier Reef suffering back-to-back severe coral bleaching in the last two years.

Dr Lissa Schindler, marine ecologist at the Australian Marine Conservation Society said, “Our Great Barrier Reef is sick. Half of all shallow water corals have died in the last 2 years. It is vital that we give our Reef time to recover – not add more pressure with a huge dredging project.

“There are already approximately 350,000 cubic metres dredged from Trinity Inlet every year to maintain the depth of the channel. More capital dredging will result in even more maintenance dredging and even more pressure on nearby reefs.

“Our World Heritage Great Barrier Reef underpins the thriving tourism industry on which the Cairns economy depends. Dredging the inlet for large sized cruise ships would result in serious damage to the environment.

“It just does not make sense to endanger the future of the vulnerable Great Barrier Reef ecosystem and the Cairns tourism industry with this short sighted proposal.

“The local tourism industry can still thrive without expanding dredging in Trinity Inlet, which would further degrade the poor water quality around the Cairns region.

“There are already regular visits by cruise ships to Cairns. Those that cannot enter the Inlet are readily accommodated via offshore anchorage and small boat transfer at Yorkey’s Knob.

“Research has shown that whether a cruise ship docks in a port or anchors offshore and transfers passengers by smaller boats to land actually makes little difference to the number of people disembarking and coming to explore Cairns and its surrounds.

“The World Heritage Committee last week gave the Australian and Queensland governments two more years to turn around the health and management of the Reef – or else risk an “in danger” listing, which would be devastating for the local tourism industry.

“The government needs to be doing all it can to make sure this doesn’t happen. That means protecting water quality in the region by ruling out more dredging.”

For interviews and more information contact:

Dr Lissa Schindler, Senior Reef Campaigner,
0400 830 502, [email protected]
Based in Brisbane

David Cazzulino, Fight For Our Reef Campaigner (Cairns),
0477 238 095, [email protected]
Based in Cairns