David Sparkes

Concerns for harbour health

THE extent of concerns about the environmental and fishing in Gladstone could be set to intensify if a new shipping channel goes ahead in the harbour.

The Gladstone Ports Corporation submitted the proposal to the State Government last year to meet increasing industrial demand and mitigate the risks for shipping in the current channel.

It was only five months ago that the world's leading environmental agency UNESCO handed down its sobering report on the harbour and its potential future.

UNESCO recommended the State Government refrain from any new port development or associated infrastructure outside of the existing port areas adjoining the World Heritage Listed surrounding marine area.

The report also concluded there were concerns regarding the environmental manage- ment of Gladstone Harbour and protection of its surrounding environment.

Various reports over the past 12 months have rejected the connection between dredging activity and turbidity levels in the Gladstone Harbour, water quality and last year's fish disease scare.

Commercial fishermen have launched a class action lawsuit against the Gladstone Ports Corporation over a loss of income. The group is seeking $20 million in compensation.

The environmental impact statement for the channel duplication will be expected to examine the impact of dredging.

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