Ports North, is proposing to undertake a major dredging operation in Trinity Inlet, however there are serious environmental risks and major community concerns with the proposal.,
This proposal is reportedly to allow larger cruise liners to enter. The claim is that this will provide economic benefits to the city, however this is yet to be backed up by economic data. Our concern is that this major dredging operation will jeopardise the health of the marine ecosystems that many of our tourists come to see. A healthy reef is fundamental to a healthy tourism economy, so any risks to reef health should not be taken lightly.
The proposed Cairns Shipping (Trinity Inlet) Development Project would mean digging up an estimated over 4.4 million m3 of dredge spoil, which is a massive amount and is more than what is proposed for Abbot Point. Dredge spoil, the mud and other sediment removed from the sea floor, often contains heavy metals and other contaminants from industrial land uses and shipping. Options for dredge spoil disposal include dumping in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park [edit: note that offshore dumping in the Marine Park is now ior onshore dumping options, both of which pose risks to marine life by increasing sediment and nutrient loads and introducing contaminants. Onshore dumping poses risks to terrestrial habitats as well as marine environments.
Why is new capital dredging of Trinity Inlet is a bad idea?
Issues of concern include:
- Direct impacts on marine life such as fish, dugongs and turtles.
- The impact of environmental damage from dredging on the tourism industry, recreational fishing and commercial fishing. Events after capital dredging in Gladstone should send us a clear warning about potential impacts in Trinity Inlet.
- The release of potentially contaminated sediment into the greater Trinity environment and it’s impact on both human and wildlife health.
- Impacts on critical habitat including seagrass beds and coral reef.
- There is no real need for new dredging in Cairns as alternatives exist for large cruise ships and there is little current demand for larger ships to visit port.
- The cumulative impact of this proposal in the context of the broader Great Barrier Reef environment and the massive increase in maintenance dredging that would be required.
- The environmental and amenity damage of increased (possibly toxic) mud washing up on our Northern beaches.
- The cost to the taxpayer of dredging.
- The risk of UNESCO ‘in danger’ listing of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. This listing was recently temporarily prevented due to Government policies which included no new dredging in Cairns.
- The reputation damage to Cairns if dredging was to proceed – this would destroy our reputation as reef / environmental stewards and as a nature tourism destination.
For more information view:
- Open Letter from local businesses regarding Cairns dredging and the Ports Bill. – Do you own, run or work in a Cairns and Far North local business? Do you care about reef protection and our tourism future? Joinn other FNQ businesses and sign on to the open letter.
- Stand up for the Reef and stop new Cairns dredging – email your local MP – easy to use email tool.
- No mega-port for Cairns e-petition – sign now! – No mega-port for Cairns – e-petition now available. Let your voice be heard and sign the parliamentary petitionagainst environmentally damaging, unnecessary and uneconomic new dredging in Cairns and the push to turn Cairns into an industrial port putting our lifestyle and tourism industry at risk.
- Questions being asked about Cairns dredging campaign.
Cairns community deserves to know who is behind the dredging campaign after a billboard mysteriously emerged in the local parade and petitions appeared in the local library.
- Aggressive pro-dredging lobbyists caught on film as political billboard is included in Cairns festival parade.
- Lobbying to dredge Cairns Port misleading and misguided CAFNEC is countering claims by lobbyists that new dredging in Cairns Port is necessary for our economic future and reminding people of the environmental risks that would be involved.
- Congratulations, the environment wins – Cairns dredging halted!
Significant win in the ongoing campaign to protect Trinity Inlet and the Great barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
On Saturday 18th April 2015 the Queensland Government announced that it would not be funding the Cairns Dredging proposal.
- Reef election commitments welcomed – Including specific reference to the Cairns dredging proposal, suggesting that if Labor forms Government they will stop throwing money at this risky and unnecessary project. The document says:“The Newman Government has committed $40 million towards a major dredging project at Trinity Inlet in Cairns. The environmental impact statement for that project has been completed but Campbell Newman is keeping it secret until after the election is over. Labor will not subsidise this dredging campaign and we will not allow dredging to go ahead at Trinity Inlet unless there is a responsible, workable plan to use the dredge spoil for land reclamation or dispose of it safely on land.”
- Our Great Barrier Reef is an election issue – Evidence for the obvious
- Obama, Reef 2050 and dredge spoil dumping policy
- Pressure building to stop Cairns dredge dumping – ALP policy announcement
- Community forum on Cairns port dredging a resounding success
- Updated information sheet July 2014 – read this first!
- World Heritage Committee confirms need for Australia to do more to protect our reef – The Cairns Port dredging proposal should be scrapped
- CAFNEC gives evidence at Great Barrier Reef Senate Inquiry
- Summary article : Cairns port expansion threatens to undermine our bay.
- Great Barrier Reef ‘world heritage in danger’ listing to be discussed in Quatar
- Great Barrier Reef Report Card 2012 and 2013 – Reef Water Quality Protection Plan released
- UNESCO ups ante on Great Barrier Reef dredge spoil dumping
- Queensland Resources Council and State Government in tag team spin campaign ignoring the ‘reef facts’ about the Great Barrier Reef
- Major community gathering and march – Save The Reef – Protect Our Inlet – April 6th 2014 – Event wrap up (photos, video etc)
- Cairns Port Dredging Proposal – another Gladstone?
- Seagrass beds at record low – could the port expansion push them over the edge?
- Results of our community survey showing High Community Concern About Cairns Dredging Proposal
- TrinityInletDredging-FactSheet for more details of what the proposal involves
- submission from September 2012
- submission from February 2013.
About Trinity Inlet
The beautiful Trinity Inlet in Cairns is an extensive estuarine area home to abundant life and is the spectacular meeting point of rainforested hills, intact mangrove systems and the marine ecosystems of the Great Barrier Reef. The inlet is also home to the port of Cairns and is a thriving hub of activity.
The Barron and Trinity catchments both flow into Cairns Harbour and Trinity Inlet. Agricultural and urban developments are the primary land uses in both catchments.
The area supports significant seagrass habitat and represents the largest area of seagrass between
Hinchinbrook and Cooktown. These seagrass meadows provide critical nursery habita tand are feeding habitats for dugong (Dugong dugon), green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) and wading bird populations. The seagrass beds are currently in trouble and at their lowest level of coverage in recorded history.
Trinity Inlet is also a significant cultural and economic resource for the Gunggandji, Yidinji and Yirranydji people. At least 11 fishing sites and four crabbing sites have been identified as being significant to indigenous peoples for regional prawn and finfish fisheries of the region. Significant sites include freshwater, estuarine creeks, foreshores, seagrass beds, wetlands and offshore areas from Ellie Point to False Cape.
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