New research identifying greater dangers for whales from the Government’s plans for increased fossil fuel exports should cause the federal Environment Minister to review existing approvals and press pause on further approvals for controversial port expansions in Queensland, said the Australian Greens today.
This latest research indicates areas close to ports marked for large expansions as critical for humpback whales, and will be verified with further aerial studies to be released by the end of the year.
“Senate Estimates showed shipping movements are expected to increase more than three-fold, due to these massive port expansions for fossil fuel exports,” Greens environment spokesperson and former environmental lawyer Senator Larissa Waters said.
“With more than 11,700 shipping movements projected – more than one every hour – and this new research about critical whale areas, it’s highly likely that we will be seeing more humpback adults and babies being injured or killed due to collisions with coal and gas tankers.
“The Australian Government can’t have it both ways – they can’t turn our World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef into a coal and gas highway without severely damaging the environmental values for which the Reef was listed in the first place.
“The Environment Minister should wait for the results of these further whale studies before issuing any more port approvals.
“Likewise the Minister should reconsider existing port approvals when this ‘significant new information’ about whale impacts is published.
“If the Minister says this research is not ‘significant new information' which would allow him to reconsider approvals, this determination could be challenged in the courts.”