Target: Australian Environment Minister Mark Butler
Goal: Limit industrial development that threatens the Great Barrier Reef
The newest strategy by the Australian and Queensland governments to protect the Great Barrier Reef fails to acknowledge the emerging threat of industrialization on the health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef and a designated World Heritage Site. The plan’s primary focus is on improving land management practices and water quality, while ignoring the significant emerging threats posed by coastal development, port expansions, and increased shipping activity on the Reef. This petition insists that the government limit industrial development to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
New Environment Minister Mark Butler is deliberating the expansion of Abbot Point, a coal export terminal, which would allow for three million cubic meters of dredging. This proposal is considered “one of the most controversial environmental matters inherited by the new minister.”
The Australian Marine Conservation Society criticized the 2013 Reef Water Quality Protection Plan for not recognizing industrialization and the increased shipping activity and dumping of dredging material that comes with it, as a major threat to the Reef. Dredging along the Queensland coast breaks up the seafloor and dumps sediment into reef waters, destroying the ecosystems of turtles and other marine life. This issue also has the potential to affect the status of the Reef as an international tourist destination. In spite of these threats, the federal government continues to approve development projects, with future plans underway for mega-ports and a shipping super-highway near the Reef.
According to ABC.net, a team of 150 marine scientists and 33 institutions in Australia has “backed a declaration that warns of the threat of rapid industrialization along the reef.” They hope to halt all construction of ports along the Great Barrier Reef and propose a transformation of current shipping management practices by encouraging businesses to “take on a greater protection role.” Sign this petition to urge Minister Butler to oppose dredging at Abbot Point and adopt stricter regulations for industrial development along the Great Barrier Reef.
Dear Minister Butler,
Many have voiced their disapproval of Australia’s newest Reef Water Quality Protection Plan for failing to recognize the emerging threats posed by coastal development, port expansions, and increased shipping activity on the Reef. As the new Environment Minister, your decision on cases like the Abbot dredging permit will be significant in determining the future of the Great Barrier Reef. Allowing the expansion of harmful dredging along the Great Barrier Reef would further contribute to deteriorating water quality and threatened marine life, as well as establish a dangerous precedent for valuing industrial development over environmental concerns.
A successful strategy for the long-term preservation of the Great Barrier Reef must accommodate the Reef’s various uses such as tourism, fishing, and boating. This will require collaboration with industry and community stakeholders to foster environmentally friendly practices for maintaining reef water quality while supporting local business interests. We urge you to recognize the importance of limiting industrial development to protect the Great Barrier Reef and all it provides for marine life, local industries, and the international community.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: LLudo via Flickr