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Will the Reef 2050 plan actually protect our World Heritage icon?

The Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC) is concerned that the draft Reef 2050 plan released today falls short of what is required to protect the Great Barrier Reef into the future.

2050 sus planMEDIA RELEASE 15/09/2014

Headlining CAFNEC concerns is the reliance on the Queensland Ports Strategy, North East Shipping Management Plan and a yet to be developed dredging management strategy to address concerns regarding port expansions, dredging and dumping.

Josh Coates, CAFNEC Marine Programs Coordinator said:

“The Reef 2050 plan acknowledges the significant challenges we face in restoring the GBR to health, however the report falls well short of what is needed to achieve recovery.”

“The report makes constant reference to restrictions on new port developments outside of the established ports of Abbot Point; Gladstone; Hay Point and Mackay; and Townsville. We see these statements as little more than a meaningless smokescreen due to the short 10 year time frame of the commitment and the fact that proposed developments such as the Cairns Port dredging proposal are still on the table.”

“CAFNEC supports the plan’s objective that ‘the quality of water in or entering the Reef from industrial, port (including dredging), urban waste and stormwater sources has no detrimental impact on the health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef’. But we have we have serious doubts regarding the intent, and resourcing in the delivery of this objective.”

“Voluntary reporting for industry and ports and a non-binding and yet to be developed ‘code of practice’ for port related dredging activities are not going to be enough to ensure that dredging activities do not have a detrimental impact on the reef or local environments.”

“To meet the targets for water quality we need to see a firm commitment to halt all new dredging and dumping in the World Heritage area and better management of maintenance dredging. The 2050 plan falls short in addressing the crucial issues of port expansions, dredging and increased shipping impacts.”

“To achieve the targets set in the 2050 plan there will need to be a significant increase in resourcing for the organisations charged with delivering outcomes. What we have instead seen in recent times is neutral or negative growth in funding for organisations such as the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).

“What is required is a serious investment in the future of the reef to protect our environment and the tourism and other industries that rely on good reef health. We need investment on the scale of what we are spending to fix up the Murray River – billions, not millions to reduce the threats such as catchment pollution, coastal development including port expansions and poor fishing management.”

“Without more funding and a stronger commitment to real reform the targets set in the 2050 plan look unrealistic and unachievable.”

“We have no confidence that this plan in its present form will be enough to address the concerns of the World Heritage Committee and prevent the listing or the reef as ‘World Heritage in danger’ next year.”

The plan is available for download at http://www.environment.gov.au/marine/gbr/reef2050

 

Media contact: Josh Coates, Marine Programs Coordinator, (07) 4032 1586,  marine [at] cafnec.org.au

 

Permanent link to this article: http://cafnec.org.au/2014/09/15/will-reef-2050-plan-actually-protect-world-heritage-icon/