REEF RENOS RAMPED UP
THE Great Barrier Reef avoided a world heritage “in danger” listing last week, but it won’t avoid the attention of the State Government which is ramping up efforts to protect it.
This week the Government is expected to introduce a Bill to Parliament tightening legislation on port expansions and dredge spoil dumping.
Environment Minister Steven Miles said the water taskforce set up earlier this month also would meet for the first time this week and it would drive Government policy on Reef repair plans.
Dr Miles has asked the taskforce to report on the best way to achieve an 80 per cent reduction in pollution run-off.
Targets have been set in the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan but there are scientific concerns that it is a big ask given the difficulty in turning around 100 years of catchment degradation.
Dr Miles also has asked the taskforce to report to him on the effectiveness and cost of more robust regulations, a market-based trading mechanism or a combination of responses to cut things such as farm and urban run-offs.
Farming communities remain bitterly opposed to any regulation on their operations after having won a relaxation of laws under the previous state government.
A draft report released by the World Heritage Committee in Paris on Friday recommended that the World Heritage area not be listed in danger due to overdevelopment and long-term degradation but it warned Australia that it would be watching its work.
Although the campaign to fight the listing was primarily driven by the Federal Government, much of the repair work will occur at state level.
James Cook University scientist Jon Brodie said that CSIRO and Australian Institute of Marine Science boffins were gagged from critiquing the 2050 plan which he said was weak.
Professor Terry Hughes, director of ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef studies, said Reef 2050 ignored climate change, the biggest threat to the Reef.
He said 40 million cubic metres of port maintenance dredging was slated for the next five years despite the ban on capital spoil dredging.
Greenpeace spokeswoman Shani Tager said financial institutions considering investing in central Queensland’s Carmichael coal mine should drop any involvement in the project.