Australian Greens environment spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters today re-affirmed the Greens’ call to suspend mass dredging in Gladstone Harbour until its potential link with the unfolding environmental crisis has been determined.
Fishing communities have been banned from fishing in Gladstone Harbour for three weeks following the latest contamination scare, which has come after mass animal deaths in the dugong and turtle populations.
“We are experiencing a major environmental crisis in Gladstone Harbour, a world heritage-listed area, and yet federally approved dredging of 46 million cubic metres for LNG is still underway,” Senator Waters said.
“In August I raised the need to suspend dredging approvals in Gladstone Harbour with Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke, but nothing has happened despite hundreds of marine deaths and now major contamination in our precious Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
“What will it take for the Government to place the long-term health of our precious marine ecosystems and coastal communities ahead of short-term private LNG profits?
“Dredging is blanketing seagrass beds with sediment, and exacerbating poor water quality making fish susceptible to disease.
“It’s also possible that the dredging is stirring up organic toxins and heavy metals from the legacy of industry in Gladstone.
“Gladstone communities are taking a huge hit under the fishing ban, and traditional owners have stepped up to suspend their hunting of turtles and dugongs.
“In fact, everyone is responding to this crisis except for the industry which may be contributing to it in the first place, and the Government which is allowing them to operate with impunity.
“If fishing must be suspended because of the latest contamination scare, it’s reasonable that dredging is suspended too until we have a rigorous scientific investigation into the environmental impacts of dredging in Gladstone Harbour in light of the floods, marine deaths and contamination.