The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is treasured by many, but Australian officials seem to see no problem with dropping millions of tons of mud into the area. Recently, the government, along with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, approved a plan to dump sediment into the water, which conservationists expect will further endanger an already vulnerable environment.
If that doesn’t sound like enough of an ecological disaster, just wait until you hear who benefits from this dumping: the coal industry. The Abbot Point coal port wants to expand, but needs to complete this dredging in order to make room for its growing operations. There’s nothing like hurting the environment in one manner to more efficiently hurt the environment in another.
Technically, the dump will not occur directly atop the actual coral, a point the proponents of the plan are quick to mention. However, critics and eco-activists believe that completing this action beside the coral will still have massive consequences.
“When you dump sand and sediment, a lot of it is suspended in the water. It will travel out of the reef, and that is our concern,” Felicity Wishart, a spokesperson for the Australian Marine Conservation Society, told Al Jazeera. “The sediment will cut out light and make it much more difficult for seagrass and coral to survive.”
Additionally, the presence of more coal ships in the area puts the Great Barrier Reef at a continued risk. Not only could boats collide into the coral, but also, the oil could spill. Though there are regulations that prevent new businesses from developing in this area, the rules permit existing operations to expand, thereby allowing Abbot Point to dump sediment, as far as the authorities are concerned.
However, activists are certainly speaking out. The Care2 community already created a popular petition that calls on Greg Hunt, the Minister for the Environment in Australia, to intervene. Meanwhile, Green Peace has released a similarly exasperated statement: “Green lighting the reef’s destruction makes a mockery of the Authority’s charter, which obliges it to protect the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the World Heritage Area.”
Sadly, the Great Barrier Reef just can’t seem to catch a break. This region has suffered in a number of other ways recently:
- Climate change is causing ocean temperatures to rise and the Great Barrier Reef to consequentially erode.
- Fresh water flooding in Australia has made nearby ocean water less salty, leaving the inhabiting reef to become weaker.
- A mining boom has inspired some dangerous shipping practices that damages the reef.
- This past summer, the United States Navy unbelievably admitted that it dropped four bombs on the Great Barrier Reef.
Given all of these existing obstacles, it seems downright irresponsible to introduce a new harmful element to the Great Barrier Reef. Join more than 60,000 Care2 community members in calling for a stop to this dangerous reef-dumping plan by signing this petition!