TODAY'S decision to approve the $82.5 million port expansion at Fisherman's Landing in Gladstone is disastrous for the area's threatened dugongs and rare inshore dolphins.
The Fisherman's Landing Northern Expansion Project will bury critical sea grass habitat within a designated dugong sanctuary under tonnes of mud and rock, and will have a major impact on the region's coastal ecosystems.
“The local dugong population at Gladstone depends entirely on sea grass meadows, a fact that was recognised in the declaration of the Rodd's Bay Dugong Protected Area in 2002,” said Lydia Gibson, WWF's Tropical Marine Species Manager.
“This development will smother a large area of these sea grass meadows under a thick layer of mud and rock, and remove this critical habitat forever.”
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies dugongs as ‘vulnerable to extinction' at a global scale, and Australian tropical waters are considered one of the species' last strongholds.
WWF has been urging governments to conduct an overarching Strategic Environmental Assessment under section 146 of the EPBC Act to adequately address cumulative impacts in the Curtis Island Gladstone Port Region.
This has not happened.