Reef needs protection, not delay

Press release - 9 July, 2013
New Federal Environment Minister Mark Butler now has one month to knock back the controversial proposal to dump millions of tonnes of mud in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park near Abbot Point in north Queensland.

A decision was due today, but Minister Butler postponed the deadline until the 9th August.

"With the threat of an "in danger" listing still hanging over the Reef, and strong criticism of the scale of development being allowed along its beautiful coast, Minister Butler needs to refuse any further development at Abbot Point, including this proposal” said Greenpeace’s Queensland Campaigner Louise Matthiesson.

“There are strong reasons to refuse this dredging permit, so we are disappointed that the Minister has avoided making an immediate decision.”

“The dredging plan involves tearing up seagrass habitat that endangered turtles and dugongs rely on for food and there is a real risk that plumes of muddy water from the dredging could smother nearby coral reefs.”

“Approving the dredging would also bring plans to build the world’s biggest coal port at Abbot Point a giant step closer, adding to the world’s climate crisis.”

"As he is also Minister for Climate Change and Minister in charge of protecting the Reef, Mark Butler has multiple reasons to reject this proposal."

Greenpeace is calling on the Minister to use the delay to release an important new study on the wider impacts of dredging and dumping on the entire Great Barrier Reef.  

“It was revealed in Senate Estimates hearings a month ago that a study commissioned by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority shows that the impacts of dredging are far greater than previously realised.”

“This vital new evidence must be released to the public before any decision is made on dredging at Abbot Point.”

The Minister has said he wants to hear the views of interested parties before making a decision.

“Minster Butler should listen to local fishermen who fear that the dredging could jeopardise their livelihoods. They are some of the thousands of people whose jobs rely on a healthy Great Barrier Reef.”

“Over 30,000 people have signed Greenpeace’s petition against the dredging plans, Australians are shocked that this could even be considered in a World Heritage Area.”

"Every Australian knows the Reef is at a crossroads: when is the Australian Government going to stop the hand-wringing and stand up to the coal industry?"

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