THE Western Basin dredging project has been highlighted in a review of port-related dredging and associated environmental impacts in subtropical and tropical waters.
The Ports Australia-commissioned review was welcomed by the Queensland Resources Council as an authoritative turning point in the debate surrounding management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
The QRC said the review made the crucial observation that shipping channels were of equal importance to road and rail networks and that dredging of shipping channels was an essential part of port operation in Australia and globally.
But the Australian Marine Conservation Society, without having seen the report, said there was also the acknowledgement that dredging was having an impact, which needed to be halted to reverse the decline of the reef.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said the review didn't pull any punches in calling out the Gladstone Western Basin and Hay Point Departure Path projects for reporting water turbidity impacts significantly greater than those approved or predicted.
"As the report highlights, associated monitoring of seagrass did not indicate any impacts greater than those permitted under the environmental conditions imposed at Gladstone," he said.
"Ports are as vital to Australia's future as they were to its development.
"However, dredging and seabed placement continues to be misrepresented as an environmental threat to the Great Barrier Reef by activists whose only objective is to close down Queensland's export coal and gas industries."
But AMCS spokeswoman Felicity Wishart said if there were impacts within the environmental approvals, "that's telling me the government isn't doing enough to protect the reef and it being damaged".
"The environment laws are clearly not strong enough," she said.