Tourism in­dus­try trou­bled by risk to reef at Ab­bot Pt

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

AS FED­ERAL En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Mark But­ler pre­pares to make a de­ci­sion about the ex­pan­sion and dredg­ing of the coal ter­mi­nal at Ab­bot Point, mem­bers of the Whit­sun­day marine tourism in­dus­try have come for­ward to ex­press their con­cerns.

Whit­sun­day Char­ter Boat In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion (WCBIA) pres­i­dent Tony Brown said while Whit­sun­days Mar­ket­ing and De­vel­op­ment Limited (WMDL) and lo­cal MP’s had spo­ken in sup­port of the pro­ject, many marine tourism op­er­a­tors were of a dif­fer­ent view.

“We would be the most af­fected if this pro­ject goes ahead and it ends up with an eco­log­i­cal disas­ter,” he said.

Al Grundy from Ex­plore Whit­sun­days echoed th­ese con­cerns.

“While a per­cent­age of the com­mu­nity, par­tic­u­larly in Bowen will be in sup­port of the de­vel­op­ment of Ab­bot Point and the dredg­ing of spoil into the sea, I be­lieve that a large per­cent­age of the com­mu­nity does not [sup­port it], par­tic­u­larly here in Air­lie Beach [and the] Whit­sun­days,” he said.

Mr Grundy and Mr Brown both likened sup­port­ing the ex­pan­sion to tak­ing a big risk, par­tic­u­larly when there ap­peared to be science on both sides of the de­bate. They asked why, with the port cur­rently op­er­at­ing at only 27 per cent ca­pac­ity, there was such a rush to de­velop it to five times its size.

Mean­while, WMDL CEO Da­nial Rochford said he un­der­stood there were pas­sion­ate sup­port­ers both for and against the ex­pan­sion.

“As such we put a po­si­tion for­ward to the min­is­ter that stated that we sup­ported the de­vel­op­ment, but on the con­di­tion that the science must prove that it will not have a detri­men­tal ef­fect on the en­vi­ron­ment and in par­tic­u­lar the Great Bar­rier Reef,” he said.

Mr Rochford said the ex­pan­sion of the re­gions’ re­sources sec­tor would pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and em­ploy­ment growth but he agreed this should not come “at the ex­pense of our en­vi­ron­ment or com­mu­nity”.

“And of course we are very aware that tourism is a key sec­tor in this re­gion and we will al­ways urge that this kind of de­vel­op­ment doesn’t im­pact on this im­por­tant in­dus­try,” he said.

CON­CERNED: Deb­o­rah Brown (True Blue Sail­ing), Al Grundy (Ex­plore Whit­sun­days), Keith Roberts (Whit­sun­day Cata­ma­rans), Richard Wal­ter (Whit­sun­day Get­aways) and Tony Brown (True Blue Sail­ing and WCBIA pres­i­dent), are all con­cerned about the im­pacts of ex­pan­sion and dredg­ing at Ab­bot Point on the Whit­sun­days' marine tourism in­dus­try.

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