Target: Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt
Goal: Urge Australia to stop dredge dumping near the Great Barrier Reef
The Australian government has given the green light to begin dumping millions of cubic meters of dredged mud near the Great Barrier Reef, as part of a project to expand the Abbot Point coal port. Though the permit specifies protective parameters, there is still a great deal of concern for the fragile ecosystem of the reef, which is threatened by ship traffic, illegal coral collection, global warming, and increased acidification of ocean waters. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization has warned that the reef may be added to the list of World Heritage Sites in danger. Expanding this coal port will increase ship traffic and put the reef at risk of further destruction.
Even if damage to the reef is limited, there are significant dangers associated with dredging and dumping, including the smothering of corals and sea grasses, and the release of poisons and toxic chemicals from dredging. The coral of the Great Barrier Reef, though doing fairly well in comparison to a majority of reefs, underwent two mass bleaching events in the past five years. Bleaching refers to mass die-offs of corals caused by temperature changes, a rising threat given global warming.
Also threatened are vulnerable marine animals: the endangered green and flat back sea turtles, which nest on a beach not far from the port, and dugongs, which live in the sea-grass beds of the spoil-dumping area. Dugongs are at risk of extinction, and most of the world’s population is concentrated in the Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, a watchdog group, set 47 environmental conditions to try to minimize the impact of the dumping project, and claimed that Abbot Point is better placed than other ports as its location requires significantly less dredging. Yet the dangers remain, and increased shipping traffic through a World Heritage Site threatens marine life through collisions, potential spills and accidental destruction of coral, and further contamination of the reef. Sign the petition below to help protect one of the world’s greatest reefs and the marine life that survives there in an increasingly threatened ecosystem.
Dear Environment Minister Greg Hunt,
I understand that coal exportation is of great economic benefit to Australia, but I was very disappointed and alarmed that the dredging near the Great Barrier Reef marine park was green-lit. The Great Barrier Reef is not only a beautifully diverse ecosystem of massive size, but also home to endangered species and corals that shelter 25% of the world’s marine life.
I ask that the dredging be reconsidered and other options adopted. The expansion of the coal port threatens fragile corals and animals alike, and the Great Barrier Reef is already facing significant damage and die-off from global temperature changes, pollution, and human exploitation. Losing more of our coral reefs will be a massive blow to humanity and the environment, and to hasten the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef for coal exportation is a step in the wrong direction. Therefore, I urge you now to halt the expansion of the Abbot Point port and safeguard the future of the Great Barrier Reef.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Richard Ling via Wikimedia Commons