The Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef. C Veron

Scientists urge Newman and Abbott to rethink reef dredging

A GROUP of Australia's top marine scientists have urged the Abbott and Newman governments to listen to the science on the effects of dredging on the Great Barrier Reef.

Marine scientists from the University of Queensland and Griffith University have written to a Senate inquiry on the reef highlighting the risks of increasing coastal development.

Led by UQ's Global Change Institute director Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, the submission says dredging, offshore dumping, industrialisation and international shipping were "adding to agricultural run-off issues".

"Therefore, it is absolutely vital that disturbances to catchments along the Queensland coastline are being decreased as opposed to being increased," the submission reads.

The submission said the state government's 2013 Scientific Consensus statement reinforced the concerns about dredging and industrial development and that "sustained and greater effort will be needed".

"Adding further impacts, coastal development and the dumping of dredge spoil within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is not consistent with these scientific conclusions and consensus," it reads.

Prof Hoegh-Guldberg and co-authors also wrote the problems with water quality were increasing, not decreasing and "addition of millions of cubic metres of dredging spoils to the coastal waters of the reef is currently highly inconsistent with the recommendations of UNESCO".

"In terms of the current strategy, we also urge both the state and federal governments to evaluate the scientific evidence carefully and put the onus on parties attempting to develop port facilities to show that all risks to the reef have been brought to zero," the submission reads.

The Senate inquiry will report back to parliament in late August.

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