The Government of Australia has ordered a waste dumping ban on Great Barrier Reef. Environment Minister, Greg Hunt said he had ordered the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to develop regulations to stop waste from capital dredging being dumped in the park “once and for all”. “We are ending a century-old practice of dumping in the marine park,” he said, referring to waste created by enlarging shipping channels, berths and marinas. “Australians are proud of the reef and it remains one of the great natural wonders of the world,” he said.”We are determined to protect and manage the Great Barrier Reef not just for the coming decades, but for coming centuries.” The park where the ban will apply, almost totally overlaps with an expanse designated as a World Heritage Area, but it does not include most islands and ports, as well as lakes and other waterways in the heritage area. Environmental groups have urged the minister to go a step further and prohibit the dumping of dredge soil throughout the World Heritage Area, not just within the marine park. The ban will now be subject to public consultation, with final approval expected by mid-March.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has threatened to put the reef which is a World Heritage area, on its danger list. The reef also faces threats from climate change, nutrients washing into the sea and the destructive crown-of-thorns starfish, and the government was working on each of them, he added in a statement. But he said water quality was improving, coral-eating starfish were being culled and stricter management regimes have been put in place for shipping and developments, including ports. Hunt said the government had put together a strong defence for the management of the Great Barrier Reef concluding that it should not be listed as in danger.