CORAL DREDGING IN MORETON BAY, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA
The Moreton Bay Environmental Alliance opposed the dredging of unique and valuable coral reefs in Moreton Bay.
The Alliance is comprised of over twenty-six local community conservation organisations interested in conserving the environment of Moreton Bay. The Alliance is facilitated through the Australian Marine Conservation Society. We seek readers assistance and advice on protecting the significant natural heritage values of the reefs and maintaining our quality of life.
Irreversible loss of reef habitat, and associated environmental values of Moreton Bay have been lost so that cement could be manufactured. This was inconsistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD) and the object of the Queensland Environmental Protection Act. It is an issue of the community of Australia attaining ESD of lime production and cement manufacturing industry.
The remaining coral reef wetlands of Moreton Bay are at the biological transition between temperate and tropical fauna and therefore unique. They clearly play a substantial role in the natural functioning and ecological diversity of the coastal system of the Bay. The coral reefs are of regional, national and international value. For example, of the 43 species of shorebirds that use the Bay, 30 are migratory in estimated numbers of 50,000. Indeed, all the coral reefs wetlands meet many of the prescribed criteria of a wetland of international importance as defined under the Ramsar Convention. A large portion of the Bay's wetlands is listed Ramsar site in recognition of its value to the world. Also, they are important to the people of the Bay region as they contribute to our quality of life, both now and in the future. One valuable aspect alone is the Bay's fishing grounds for commercial and recreational fishing. With 3% of the Queensland coast we are harvesting 20% of the commercial catch and an estimated 300,000 recreational fisher frequent the Bay.
It is not in the public interest for the community to suffer irreversible and significant environmental harm to the environmental values of these coral reef wetlands. The substantial loss of coral reefs around St Helena Island, weakening the physical defences of the Island, damaging mangroves communities and damaging surrounding coral communities by sediment plumes are the obvious impacts of coral dredging coral. St Helena Island is a National Park that is within the Moreton Bay Marine Park. The Bay is located next to the booming population of Brisbane and south-east Queensland, estimated at nearly 2 million. Therefore public interest in conserving our coral reefs is clear.
Degradation of these wetlands of international importance for migratory birds, in relation to Australia's obligation through the RAMSAR Convention, is an issue that needs to be considered by the Commonwealth Government. Similarly, Australia's obligation under the Japan - Australia Migratory Bird Agreement and the China - Australia Migratory Bird Agreement need to be considered.
The people of Bay region have been directly affected by this unnecessary environmental harm. Land based deposits of limestone in large quantities are available within Queensland and inter-state. Queensland Cement Ltd (QCL), which conducted coral dredging in the Bay is part of a multinational company ("HOLDERBANK") that is a major cement producer in Queensland . At least one other major Queensland manufacturer of cement imports limestone from inter-state. QCL has had limestone mining leases and cement manufacturing near Gladstone for many years and is now progressing that major expansion.
The reported statements by Senator Robert Hill, the Federal Minister for the Environment concerning the clear impacts of coral dredging on the Bay and the availability of "environmentally friendly alternatives to extracting limestone from dredging coral on reef islands" indicates the Commonwealth Government is aware of community concerns and seem to have an environmentally responsible view of the situation.
Australia's obligations under the Ramsar Convention to halt the loss of important wetlands and to conserve, through wise use and management, those reefs that remain is not being met in this case. QCL has closed its Darra cement plant and opened a new cement plant at Gladstone where local rock limestone is mined.
We request the Federal Minister for the Environment to take action to ensure Australian obligation under relevant international Conventions and Agreements are met in the case of the coral reefs and island wetlands of Moreton Bay.
The Members of the Moreton Bay Environmental Alliance call upon QCL to rehabilitate the Islands and waterways within Moreton Bay which have been impacted upon by their coral extraction over past years. Clean up their mess and restore the mined area to the great fish habitat it once was. The Moreton Bay boating fateranity also have grave concerns as to the condition of the waters around the islands which were mined as many uncharted dangers now exist.
Some Rewording 23 Dec 2000
to see thumbnails and/or photos of damage to Mud Island caused by coral dredging.
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