A NEW national opinion poll conducted by Essential Research show four in every five Australians want dredging and dumping banned in the Great Barrier Reef, according to the Australian Marine Conservation Society.
Great Barrier Reef campaign director Felicity Wishart said dredging and dumping should not be taking place in the World Heritage-listed reef.
"Currently there are plans to dredge over 45 million cubic metres of seabed in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef," Ms Wishart said.
"We know that when the dredge material is dumped at sea, it can spread for vast distances covering coral and affecting water quality."
The survey found 80% of people agreed that dredging and dumping in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park should be banned.
A total 69% agreed the reef had lost out to development, while 17% thought the coal industry should be allowed to develop new ports and LNG plants on the reef even if it caused some damage.
Ms Wishart said the State Government was fast tracking port expansions that required dredging.
"Right now, Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt is weighing up whether to approve three million cubic metres of dredging at Abbot Point, less than 50km from the Whitsunday Islands," she said.
"People come from around the world to see a healthy reef and to dive in its clear blue waters.
"If the dredging and dumping continues, against the interests of most Australians, it puts a $6 billion tourism industry and 63,000 jobs at risk.
"The poll asked people to choose - either support for the coal mining industry despite port expansion impacts on the reef, or support to put the reef ahead of industrial development.
"Two thirds of people think the reef should come first."