Conservationists welcome support to end dumping in reef

CONSERVATION groups have welcomed the federal Labor Party's decision to support an Australian Greens motion to end offshore dumping in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef world heritage area.

The motion passed the Senate on Wednesday.

Australian Marine Conservation Society Great Barrier Reef campaign director Felicity Wishart said the motion to end the dumping of dredge material in the Great Barrier Reef's waters would be welcomed by everyone who loved the reef.

"This is the first time that the ALP has supported a motion to end offshore dredging," Ms Wishart said.

"Dredging destroys seagrass. It destroys the feeding grounds of sensitive reef species like turtles and dugongs.

"When we dump the dredge in the ocean, we risk killing coral with huge amounts of sediment. We also risk ruining iconic diving locations and fish habitat.

"We acknowledge that this is not government policy yet, but we call on the new Labor leadership to back the reef and make it official.

"There should be no dredging and dumping in world heritage areas. Dredging around Gladstone continues to damage the environment."

Greens senator Larissa Waters said Labor had "belatedly decided that allowing the big mining companies to dump sediment in the Great Barrier Reef was a bad idea".

"This sudden enlightenment comes after Labor has approved the dumping of at least 17.5 million cubic metres of sediment in the Great Barrier Reef," she said.

"With the World Heritage Committee warning that we've only got one year left to save the Great Barrier Reef from being added to the in-danger list, it's a relief to see Labor finally acknowledge that sediment dumping is destroying our reef.

"But Labor has been letting the big mining companies treat the Great Barrier Reef as a dumping ground for years and with that track record and hardly any Parliamentary time left, this seems like all talk and no action," Ms Waters said.

"The reef would fare no better under an Abbott Government. Reports of Tony Abbott's draft reef policy, shared only with selected media outlets, have no mention of protecting the reef from dredging or dumping."

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