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Leading the sustainable development of Queensland ports and building prosperity for current and future generations.
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Getting the balance right



  • The Great Barrier Reef is not under threat by proposed port development.
  • In 2012, the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) released a comprehensive study clearly showing that the Great Barrier Reef has lost half of its coral cover in the last 27 years. The loss was due to storm damage (48%), crown of thorns starfish (42%), and bleaching (10%). These findings are based on the most comprehensive reef monitoring program in the world. The program started broad scale surveillance of more than 100 reefs in 1985 and from 1993 it has incorporated more detailed annual surveys of 47 reefs. Researchers spent more than 2,700 days at sea and invested in the order of $50 million in this monitoring program.
  • In June 2012, the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation issued a draft report on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The draft report followed a committee inspection in March 2012 of developments in the world heritage area including proposed expansion of NQBP ports.
  • The World Heritage Committee noted that Australia had a history of strong management of the reef that was an example to other marine protected areas; that a negative trend in reef water quality had been reduced; and Australia had effectively tackled threats to the reef.
  • Among the World Heritage Committee’s recommendations, no new ports should be developed along the Queensland Coast and any developments should be within existing ports. Interest groups opposing port development claim that the boundaries of ports have been extended. This is not correct.
  • The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park has a long history as a multi-use national asset, supporting many industries that drive Queensland’s economy, including tourism, sugar, livestock, minerals, timber and coal.
  • NQBP’s social licence to operate is determined by our stewardship of the environment in which we operate.
  • Australia’s best-practice development within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area has maintained environmental values and economic growth for more than 30 years.
  • NQBP has a long and respected history of successfully delivering dredging projects at its various ports. For over three decades NQBP has been undertaking dredging programs to ensure the safe navigation of ships and port efficiency. This highly regulated process has been undertaken without significant impacts with the material dredged returned safely to the marine environment.
  • Dredged material relocation at sea is highly regulated and requires extensive analysis of alternatives in accordance with international protocols (London Convention) and Commonwealth requirement (Sea Dumping Act). Decisions with regards to dredging are based on achieving the best environmental outcome.
  • Material for ocean disposal is tested under rigorous requirements set out by the National Australian Guidelines for Dredging (NADG) in accordance with London Protocol, an international agreement relating to the disposal of dredged material in Australian waters. Only material that has been tested and determined suitable for ocean disposal is disposed of at sea.
  • Toxic or hazardous material cannot be disposed of at sea.
  • In 2006, NQBP dredged around nine million m3 of material in the Port of Hay Point and relocated it to an offshore relocation area in the GBR Marine Park. There were no significant or long term environmental impacts from the dredging apart from increased water turbidity during the dredging. No impacts on fishery values were reported.
  • Acid Sulphate Soils (ASS) requires oxygen in the air to catalyse chemical reactions that result in the formation of acids. These reactions do not occur while the material is saturated in water therefore the chemical reaction resulting in ASS cannot occur during offshore disposal.
  • Onshore and offshore options for the disposal of dredged material are considered and studied. The recommendation is based on the best environmental outcome which allows a proposed project to be viable.
  • Since 2002, 22 dredging campaigns (maintenance and capital) have been undertaken at NQBP ports without incident.
  • Current proposed dredging for Abbot Point will be 3 million cubic metres in total and will be undertaken in two to three separate campaigns over five years lasting up to four weeks each.
  • NQBP’s role as a Port Authority is to coordinate whole-of-port environmental monitoring and NQBP voluntarily participates in dust monitoring with terminal operators as part of our social responsibility.
  • Air quality monitoring in Queensland is undertaken by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) as part of their agency responsibilities.
  • The coal terminal operators have implemented best practice dust mitigation strategies to ensure dust is kept to a minimum.
  • Australia has some of the world’s highest standards in air quality.
  • NQBP and terminal operators are committed to continue to improve dust mitigation strategies and ensure levels remain well below strict government guidelines.
  • In the past 20 years, dust from port operations has reduced despite a higher port throughput, because of the continued improvement in dust controls in the terminals.
  • NQBP is continuing to expand the dust monitoring program to other areas surrounding the Port of Hay Point.
  • NQBP has implemented and actioned an EcoPorts program which is a practical action plan to achieve long-term environmental goals and commitments.
  • NQBP has maintained accreditation for Environmental Management Systems ISO 14001 (internationally recognised standard for environment management) which demonstrates sound environmental performance.
  • NQBP has a comprehensive program of environmental monitoring which is continually reviewed e.g. seagrass, coral, marine fauna, beach coal, sediment sampling, air and noise, water quality and baseline monitoring.
  • Commercial shipping has been occurring in the Great Barrier Reef area for around 100 years with vessels calling at 11 trading ports throughout the Great Barrier Reef area.
  • Commercial shipping is highly regulated by International, Commonwealth, State and local regulations and reef-specific policies.
  • A ReefVTS (reef vessel traffic service) actively monitors the movement of all ships through the entire Great Barrier Reef region 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – via mandatory reporting protocols (automatically sent from ships to the ReefVTS centre).