MEDIA RELEASE 03/10/2014

New pictures released today of maintenance dredging in Cairns show the impact of dredging and dumping in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

The dredge ship 'Brisbane' dumps maintenance dredge spoil in the World Heritage area. Photo (c) Xanthe Rivett / CAFNEC / WWF

The dredge ship ‘Brisbane’ dumps maintenance dredge spoil in the World Heritage area. Photo (c) Xanthe Rivett / CAFNEC / WWF

The Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC) Marine Programs Coordinator Josh Coates recently joined professional photographers for a fly over the maintenance dredging being undertaken in Cairns port and channel.

Pictures released today clearly show impacts of the dredging activity and also dumping of dredge spoil at the offshore site, within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and Marine Park.

Josh Coates said:

“We recognize that some dredging needs to occur, but it is critical that people see what this process looks like and are aware of the damage it causes. While there is room for improvement in the management of maintenance dredge spoil, there is no room for new capital dredging and the increased maintenance dredging that will inevitably follow.”

“These pictures really bring home the fact that around half of what is dug up in dredging operations does not end up on the spoil dump ground and instead is resuspended impacting on local environments and the Great Barrier Reef.”


A plume of mud spreads from dredging in Cairns Port. Photo (c) Josh Coates /CAFNEC / WWF

“Acid sulphate soils and the fine nature of the sediment in Trinity Bay make this all the more problematic for sea, or in fact land dumping.”

“The current proposal to deepen and widen the Cairns Port as a larger shipping channel, would involve capital dredging of 4.4 million cubic metres. What not everyone is thinking about is the large increase in maintenance dredging every year that would then also be required.”

“We believe that expanding the shipping channel is environmentally irresponsible and not necessary to maintain our tourism and cruise ship visitation. There are better options that will not put the reef and local marine environment that we all care about at risk.”


Higher resolution photos and professional video footage available.

Take action – Please sign the petition at:


Cairns-Harbour-Dredging-Xanthe-Rivett-3529Media contact: Josh Coates, Marine Programs Coordinator, (07) 4032 1586, marine {at}