Industry and healthy harbour not exclusive
A THRIVING port industry and a healthy harbour are not exclusive, the CEO of Gladstone Ports Corporation says.
“People at the coffee shops in West End at Sydney can say we have plenty of industry and it must be a terrible place to be but us locals know that’s not the truth, that’s not reality in Gladstone,” Peter O’Sullivan said.
The 2017 Gladstone Healthy Harbour report card, released this week, scored water quality a B and sediment quality an A, in what was “very pleasing” news for Mr O’Sullivan and the largest port in Queensland.
He said GPC was mainly considered the “canary in the mine” when looking at the latest healthy harbour report cards, including water and sediment quality and seagrass results.
With little change to the environmental factors between 2016-2017, which scored a C overall, Mr O’Sullivan said the results showed industry could sustainably operate near waterways.
Mr O’Sullivan said GPC led the way in environmental studies and practices, including the world-first research undertaken with James Cook University, which delved into sunlight’s impact on seagrass growth.
“It was very much a product of the 2000s that people and organisations started environmental monitoring but we started far before then,” he said.
“We weren’t told to start monitoring by a regulator, we voluntarily said it’s our harbour so we need to monitor it. “That’s our philosophy, don’t wait for someone to ask us to change our practices but instead to take a lead role in being a good, corporate citizen.”
Although the study was generally well received, Mr O’Sullivan said there could be some improvements to its interpretation.
For example, he said seagrass species composition ,which scored a zero at the inner harbour, was taken from the lowest indicator during the study.
Mr O’Sullivan said this was because there was one species of seagrass in Gladstone harbour.
“I understand there’s a scientific process but in my mind, we need to look closely at how we come up with a methodology and score that gives the average reader the best snapshot of what’s happening out there,” he said.
Head of the independent science panel John Rolfe said seagrass was slow to recover from flood and cyclone events. Also contributing to the D-grade for seagrass was the increased number of feeding dugong.
“There has been some suggestion though that we could explore planting juvenile seagrass,” Mr Rolfe said.