Oil spill would ‘devastate’ reef
AN OIL spill in the Coral Sea would decimate the Great Barrier Reef - a scenario conservationists say could occur if the Federal Government does not establish a marine park.
Crucial tourism and fishing industries would be wiped out and marine animals, birds and corals killed if a spill the size of the Gulf of Mexico disaster happened in the Coral Sea.
A map has been created to illustrate the extent of the devastation - a 600km oil slick stretching along the Queensland coastline, north to Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation.
The Australian Conservation Foundation compiled the map as a warning to politicians that a Coral Sea marine park needed to be introduced to prevent oil and gas exploration in the sensitive waters.
Poseidon Outer Reef Cruises owner Peter Wright said a spill in the Coral Sea would leave local tourism in tatters.
“If there was an oil spill coming into this portion of the Great Barrier Reef it would devastate the marine tourism industry,” he said.
Mr Wright said he supported the establishment of a marine park in consultation with fishers and stakeholders.
ACF wants Australian political parties to commit to a Coral Sea marine park that would protect the region from an
If there was an oil spill ... it would devastate the tourism industry
— Peter Wright
environmental disaster arising from oil and gas drilling.
“Around 95 per cent of Australia’s oceans are unprotected from oil drilling, leaving an accident waiting to happen,” ACF executive director Don Henry said. “We need a moratorium on new oil and gas projects in Australian waters until the risks associated with deepwater drilling have been addressed and a national network of marine sanctuaries is established to safeguard Australia’s unique marine life.”
Federal environment minister Peter Garrett was considering creating a one million sq km conservation zone in the Coral Sea but postponed a final decision when the election was called.
Coalition leader Tony Abbott recently pledged to suspend the introduction of more marine parks.
Greens leader Bob Brown has announced a plan to protect the Coral Sea from oil and gas mining and limit recreational game fishing to the Cairns region.
“We know the Great Barrier Reef has a $6 billion ticket attached to it each year for business in Queensland - 63,000 jobs,” he said.
Coalition fisheries spokesman Senator Richard Colbeck called the proposal the most “irresponsible, reckless and uninformed” policy of the election campaign.
Potential disaster: a map produced by the Australian Conservation Foundation released this week showing the potential impact of an oil spill on the scale of the Gulf of Mexico disaster