International Guidelines on Port Dredging To Protect Reefs, Dredging News Online, 03/13/07
Source: Dredging News Online
International marine and port experts converged on Townsville in Australia recently to discuss guidelines for port construction and dredging to avoid harm to coral reefs.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) hosted the four-day conference for the Environmental Commission, a division of the non-profit international marine navigation association Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses (PIANC).
GBRMPA Manager of Environmental Impact Management Dr Adam Smith said scientists and port authorities were jointly developing the guidelines for the Commission.
“Many ports around the world are located near delicate coral reef ecosystems so it is important the marine environment is protected as ports expand their infrastructure,” Dr Smith said.
“The guidelines aim to mitigate environmental issues while also ensuring the operational needs of the port, such as safe navigation and land reclamation, are met."
“Working with port authorities helps us understand the issues and constraints affecting port operations and developments and ensure the guidelines are practical and appropriate for the industry and will be widely supported once implemented,” he explained.
Townsville Port Authority Chief Executive Officer Barry Holden is among those involved in preparing the guidelines.
"Townsville Port Authority is committed to ensuring port activities are carried out in an environmentally responsible manner,” he said.
Tom Foster, Chair of the PIANC Environmental Commission working group, said the guidelines would complement existing procedures and requirements where such exist.
“Globally, as PIANC is recognised as setting standards across the maritime industry, the guidelines will form a point of first reference for developers, contractors and consultants in those regions of the world where there are presently no requirements relating to dredging impacts on coral reefs.”
Dr Smith said the issue was one of significant importance in Queensland where ports continue to expand along the coast near the Great Barrier Reef.
“We’ve been working closely with Queensland’s port authorities and they recognise the importance of caring for the Reef and want to develop workable guidelines for port dredging and construction.”
Representatives of several Queensland port authorities, managers, scientists and environmental consultants are attending the working group meeting, along with all members of the Environmental Commission working group.
The guidelines are expected to be completed and released by the Commission in 2008.