Friday 21st of June 2019

trouble at the great barrier reef cafe...


The Great Barrier Reef is dying...
And there are many causes...
Of course one cannot go pass, "global warming". This present event — though too slow for us to pick by placing a spittled finger in the air — is super fast in terms of geological time. 
There is also the Crown of Thorns starfish... These amazing creatures are eating the coral at a rate of knots...
For many years there were fertiliser, insecticide, pesticide run-off from agriculture, flowing into the coastal rivers. But this has more or less been managed to zero by the growers themselves who, nearly thirty years ago, decided it was wasting precious cash to use fertiliser in a way that would end up in the rivers... So most farmers have had their own management plans to reduce wastage, so that no ammonium nitrate is lost into the sea. State governments installed further cumbersome regulations on top of that...
Then there are the cities, the towns, the small communities where a few hundred thousands Fred Blogs have a lawn and begonias... Fred Blogs have lawns and to make sure they grow, they feed the bugger with twenty times the amount of stuff necessary — just to make sure... The lawns get patchy of course because the fertiliser burns the grass when thrown by the handful... Thus the Fred Blogs throw more fertiliser on it thinking they did not put enough and enough is never enough... Presently, most (all) of the super phosphate and ammonium nitrate runoffs to the Great barrier Reef come from cities. But "they" still blame the farmers, who, counting the pennies, use the same amount of fertiliser Fred Blog has thrown on ten square metres, to feed 20 hectares of crops...
There is also the new controversial massive development of Gladstone's harbour that for all intent and purposes is going to have an impact on hundreds of square kilometres around, within the Great Barrier Reef National Park despite the authorities denial it won't...
And then there is the unseen, the unaccounted for. Daily, there are mega-cargo ships that weave through the coral... And some of them discharge ballast waters where they should not... They are not supposed to, but they do... The provenance of these waters is often from toxic laden rivers in China or other highly polluted places. 
The problem with ballast water is a scandal that is somewhat hushed up in the commercial media... People do not talk about it because trade could suffer from it.
But solutions are not really clear cut. for example the use of some chemicals to kill off the alien while being transported could actually do more harm on arrival.

There are many cases of massive problems in marine or lake environment due to ballast waters or other form of displacement of species.
Say for example The US spends nearly 1 billion US$ a year to contain the invasion of freshwater Zebra mussels in the great lakes, rivers and other places...
Tasmania is well known for having been invaded by Japanese Kelp and other alien species that destroy the local wildlife...
But this is not only one way traffic... For example Japan seas have their own invasions from exotic plant and animals... 
Abstract Ships are recognised as a major vector for the introduction of alien marine organisms, either through hull fouling or via ballast water. It is known that 26 species have been unintentionally introduced into Japanese waters and 42.3% of these are presumed to have been introduced by hull fouling. A notable feature of introductions to Japan is that, hull fouling is considered as the most important vector and there are no species that have been introduced solely by ballast water. This is thought to be due to the fact that ballast water, is usually retained within the ship for long enough to kill the organisms within it. The low importance of ballast water as a vector is also a common feature among importers of natural resources. The most significant source regions for species introduced to Japan are the North East Pacific and the East Asian Sea. Meanwhile, introductions from the North West Pacific, which includes countries close to Japan, are few. Because the risk of introduction from the North West Pacific, where the climate is similar to Japan’s, can be assumed to be high, care should be taken with introductions, including secondary ones, from this region. Measures that should be taken to prevent or to reduce future introductions to Japanese waters are discussed, taking into account these factors.

For the Great Barrier Reef, one has to realise that not much quantity of an invasive species — with no natural enemies in the region — need to establish a foothold to become a major problem... All it needs is to cling to a ships hull (hull-fouling) long enough, fall off and breed... We all know this too well in our gardens...Lantana, fish-fern, onion grass, privet, just to name a few — many species that can transplant into national parks and destroy a "natural" environment very quickly if not eradicated... 

Ballast water is used to stabilise empty ships and is taken on board in overseas ports then released at the destination when cargo is loaded. Australia is vulnerable to introduced exotic marine species as many ships arrive 'in ballast', then dump this water close to the coast and often in port to take aboard export products. As many as 20 exotic species are suspected of arriving in ballast water from foreign ports around the world and some have become established, mostly in temperate Australian waters.

Darren Oemcke says: "Many organisms are alive at various stages in the water when it is pumped on as ballast. Even though the ballast tanks can be relatively hostile environments many organisms survive the journey. These organisms include the pathogenic cholera bacterium, Vibrio cholarae; toxic dinoflagellate algae such as Gymnodinium catenatum; kelp; larval zooplankton and many other micro-organisms including fish parasites".

"Problems arise when these organisms make our waters their home. Natural controls through predation, parasitism and competition which constrain numbers in their natural environment may not be present in Australian waters. This can allow these exotic organisms to multiply and out-compete Australian native species," said Darren.

The problem is compounded by other toxins and man made chemicals such as those found way in excess in the Arctic...

One solution would be to stop ships from travelling through the Great Barrier Reef... This would minimise the chance of a ship hitting the reef and of ballast waters to be exchanged in that region.
So under a number of stressing factors, the Great Barrier Reef is lucky to still be there, mostly due to its size... But for how long?
Global warming (water acidity, UV and temperature), runoffs from cities, mud from digging harbours, water ballast from ships, hull-fouling, alien species, trace chemicals (naturally occurring but displaced  — man made chemicals, plastics)
Too many turtles are landing on the shore with lesions that are a direct result from all this "change" and the change has mostly happened in the last thirty years... Naturally occurring diseases develop like plague under newly man-made favourable conditions.
Picture by Gus at top, Cairns region. Wild river flowing into the sea of the Great Barrier Reef.

clouds over the future....

settlement GBR

settlements on the shore of the Great barrier Reef sea. Old picture by Gus...

and a golf course, of course...


The Federal Government has given the go ahead for a controversial mega resort in far north Queensland.

The $1.4 billion resort complex on a disused cattle station at Ella Bay near Innisfail is set to be Queensland's biggest tourism development.

The Government's tick of approval comes after seven years on the drawing board and despite concerns over the impact on nearby world heritage-listed rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.

But Environment Minister Tony Burke says the approval is subject to 19 strict conditions, including the transfer of land to the national park and fencing to protect cassowaries.

Developer Rod Lamb says he is thrilled.

"[I'm] rather shocked by the news. It's all very exciting," he said.

"It has been a long and protracted process but the project is very exciting for the town of Innisfail and hopefully it will reinvigorate the town."

It is hoped the project will create up to 400 construction jobs and 800 full-time positions.

It is expected to take 15 years to build and will include three resorts, residential precincts, a retail village and a golf course.


Ah, the ubiquitous golf course... Anywhere a new holiday development is planned, there is a GOLF COURSE, of course... One wonders about the secret power contained in the small white balls...

Yes, a golf course demands more gardening attention than 30 football fields... A golf course demands 40 times the fertilisers used on a 30 hectare sugar cane farm... A golf course is about the size of 15 football fields...

Meanwhile, a golf course is used on occasion by a few lonely rich middle class retirees whose awful swing is affected by arthritis and rhumatism... More often than not, after a few drinks at the bar of the resort, the retirees DREAM of golf while having a nap till dinner time... But, the presence of the golf cours empowers the dream and you may know now, the new resort is bang on cyclone fury during summer. 

There are more golf courses in Australia than anywhere else in the world, I believe... I've seen golf courses in the outback where the red dust (not a single blade of grass) is settled down by diesel fuel mixed with heavy oils while such courses cannot be played during the 40 degrees C plus of the day, the million candle lights of the utes make it playable after 18:00 hours... And even our Rattus the First was prepared to fund the biggest golf course in the world along the nullarbor coast... 


an art gallery of the killed...

It’s time now to start saying ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Sorry’.  On a personal note, I would like to take this opportunity to mention a few favourites. Goodbye Coral Reefs — you’ve been amazing beyond description. Goodbye Tigers — you’ve been awesome. ‘Awesome’ isn’t going to be the same without you defining it. Goodbye frogs — it’s been googly. You were sweet and funny and I wish I’d spent more time with you. Goodbye polar bears — sorry we used you in so many commercials promoting consumerism to melt you out of existence. I think now we can all agree that was in poor taste. To all of you a heartfelt: ‘Sorry’.  To all you others who may not make it, a big general: ‘Best of luck’ and ‘Sorry’. Thank you for enriching our lives so much over the past eighty thousand years since we, humanity, started making Art. You’ve often been a real sport as a subject — and for most of that time indispensible as a tool or pigment or whatever. Art owes you much.

But we all, humanity, owe you much, much more. Humanity, collectively, would hardly notice a small tax for something big, significant, enduring and expensive. Something to ‘set the world on fire’, as it were. It must be something on a par with the magnificence of all those species; something on the scale of trashing a planet; something that will endure for millions of years, like a T-Rex. Something so wonderful, it is beyond one person working alone to imagine or achieve.

It needs a huge collective effort. There is no time to waste.

the reef in peril...

THE Great Barrier Reef is set to be named as a World Heritage Site in danger by UNESCO next month.

A long-awaited assessment of the reef by UNESCO and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), released on Friday evening, says decisive action must be taken to avoid a listing in June.

The report claims the federal and Queensland governments have failed to improve water quality or halt coastal developments that could impact the reef.

Only one annual water quality report card has been published, in 2011, which covered 2009.

A second report card was due in early 2012, but it's yet to be delivered.

The report also says there's been no clear commitment by the either federal or Queensland governments to limit port developments near the reef.

Instead about 43 proposals are under assessment.

"The above-mentioned issues represent a potential danger to the outstanding universal value of the property," the report said.

"The World Heritage Centre and IUCN ... recommend that the committee consider the Great Barrier Reef for inscription on the list of World Heritage in Danger ... in absence of a firm and demonstrable commitment on these priority issues."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the Federal Government was committed to keeping the reef a great heritage area for the world.

''In the last couple of weeks I announced a $200 million reef rescue commitment,'' she told reporters in Melbourne.

''We are very committed and we'll continue to pursue those kind of commitments in the future.''

But Greens Senator Larissa Waters called on Liberal and Labor to support a Senate bill which would adopt the World Heritage Committee's recommendations as law

Read more:


Reed article at top...

ballast waters...

Scientists have developed the first global model that analyses the routes taken by marine invasive species.

The researchers examined the movements of cargo ships around the world to identify the hot spots where these aquatic aliens might thrive.

Marine species are taken in with ballast water on freighters and wreak havoc in new locations, driving natives to extinction.

The research is published in the Journal Ecology Letters.

There has been a well-documented boom in global shipping over the past 20 years and this has led to growing numbers of species moving via ballast tanks, or by clinging to hulls.

Some ports such as San Francisco and Chesapeake Bay have reportedseveral exotic new species arriving every year. Economic estimates indicate that marine invaders can have huge impacts that last for decades.

Now, scientists from the UK and Germany have developed a model that might help curb these unwanted visitors. They obtained detailed logs from nearly three million voyages that took place in 2007 and 2008.


Read article at top, seriously...

science versus wanton constructionism...

More than 150 marine scientists have called on the federal and Queensland governments to stop all construction outside major ports along the Great Barrier Reef.

The group of scientists and 33 institutions have backed a declaration that warns of the threat of rapid industrialisation along the reef.

The group says shipping management needs to be improved, port construction outside existing port areas should be halted and big business need to take on a greater protection role.

UNESCO will meet in Cambodia later this month to decide if it will place the Great Barrier Reef on the 'in danger' list.

Hugh Possingham from the University of Queensland says the reef is already in trouble and more development is putting its future at risk.

"This is just going to accelerate that, so we should really be doing the reverse," he said.

"We should be spending money to try and rehabilitate the reef.

minimising run-offs...

North Queensland sugar cane growers are finding innovative ways to improve water quality on the Great Barrier Reef by minimising water run-off from their properties.

Vince and Rita Papale run a sugar cane farm at Home Hill in the Burdekin, south of Townsville  – the engine room of the Australian sugar industry.

But they have flown to Brisbane during harvesting season to have dinner with Premier Campbell Newman as finalists in the rural category of the Queensland Premier's Sustainability Awards.


As mentioned in my article at top, I know farmers there who have been doing this for about 30 years...

blame the weather... and the farmers...

An alarming set of reports on the condition of the Great Barrier Reef published on Wednesday say its overall condition in 2011 declined from moderate to poor, and highlights that reef-wide coral cover has declined by 50% since 1985.

The series of reports blame part of the reef's poor health in 2011 on extreme weather conditions including tropical cyclone Yasi, and high rainfall which resulted in "higher than average discharge" from a number of river catchments runoffs.

The Great Barrier Reef report card of 2011 said: "These extreme weather events significantly impacted the overall condition of the marine environment which declined from moderate to poor overall in 2010–2011."

The report card also examines the water quality of the region, and showed that the majority of land managers within the Great Barrier Reef region had failed to reach their reef plan targets, aimed at reducing sediment and pesticide loads which are harmful to water quality.

"Thirty four per cent of sugarcane growers, 17% of graziers and 25% of horticulture producers adopted improved management practices by June 2011," the report said.

These reef plan targets are described as "ambitious" and include targets to halve nutrient and pesticide loads by 2013 and to reduce sediment by 20% by 2020. Despite this, the report observes "major positive change" in land management within the region.

The 2013 scientific consensus statement, released at the same time as the report card, concluded that coral cover of inshore reefs had declined by 34% since 2005.
One can see an accelerated trend and DRASTIC MEASURES NEED TO BE TAKEN...

dumping of waste in the Barrier Reef world heritage area...

The Coalition candidate for the Queensland seat of Capricornia has said she would support the dumping of dredged waste in the Great Barrier Reef world heritage area, despite a poll showing the majority of residents are against the plan.

The survey of 571 residents in the electorate of Capricornia, conducted by the World Wildlife Fund, found that 75.2% of them supported a total ban on the dumping of waste in the Great Barrier Reef world heritage area.

Michelle Landry, the LNP candidate for the seat, told Guardian Australia she would like a "suitable" dumping site to be found in the sea, to enable the expansion of the Abbot Point coal port.

"Obviously, I would prefer the site to be on land but I understand North Queensland Bulk Ports said that would be a dealbreaker, given it would take four years and cost $300m," she said.

"I believe this project needs to get the green light. The Bowen community is at a standstill, waiting on the Labor government to give its approval. Meanwhile, the cost to local business and employment is immense."

Half of those polled by the WWF said they were more likely to vote for a party that has a "strong, well-funded" plan to protect the reef.

However, 46% of respondents said that the expansion of industrial ports should be a primary focus for the government.


Gus: Dump the LNP candidate first...

fairy tales...


Development along the Great Barrier Reef must be of "net benefit" to the condition of the reef under a plan released in Townsville on Friday by the federal environment minister, Greg Hunt, and his Queenslandcounterpart, Andrew Powell.

The Great Barrier Reef strategic assessment report came after Unescolast year raised concerns about the health of the World Heritage-listed marine park, which extends more than 2300km along the Queensland coast and covers 346,000 sq km.

The international agency warned that coastal development needed better controls or the reef could be listed as "in danger".

The strategic assessment concluded that the best way to halt and reverse damage to the reef was to put in place a new management framework and examine the "cumulative effect of human activities and natural forces", rather than impacts in isolation

It also called for a "net benefit policy" so that any activities along the coast and in the marine park produced an overall benefit to the condition of the reef.

"Everyone wants to see the reef remain one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet so it can be enjoyed by future generations," Hunt said.

"Having long-term actions and partnerships in place for tackling the challenges facing the reef helps to provide greater certainty for the community, industry and the environment."

The report found that much of the damage to inshore reefs was caused by the crown of thorns starfish, which benefited from the run-off of sediments and pesticides.


This is why Greg Hunt wants to find new ways to hide the damage done by coastal development... Super coal ports of Gladstone and woopwoop will become "reef-friendly" fairy tales in the literature...


Read Gus' article at top...



crown of thorns...


The programs have succeeded in keeping the starfish off reefs visited by tourists, and is greatly welcomed by the $5 billion tourism industry.

But eradications programs are fundamentally cosmetic.

"The one shot will not prevent or stop an active outbreak of crown of thorn starfish," said Nick Heath from the World Wildlife Fund.

"It's just too big, it's a tsunami, and no amount of human endeavour could prevent a crown of thorns outbreak."

Professor Doherty agrees, saying: "I think the reality of being able to find and kill enough starfish at that scale is actually a pretty improbable outcome."

There is consensus that a long-term solution has to involve improvement in water quality and continued efforts to reduce agricultural run off.

"The leading farmers are showing the way," Mr Heath said.

"We can reduce fertiliser pollution of the reef, but unfortunately the adoption of those practices across the industry is currently insufficient."


Note what I wrote at top:

"There is also the Crown of Thorns starfish... These amazing creatures are eating the coral at a rate of knots...
For many years there were fertiliser, insecticide, pesticide run-off from agriculture, flowing into the coastal rivers. But this has more or less been managed to zero by the growers themselves who, nearly thirty years ago, decided it was wasting precious cash to use fertiliser in a way that would end up in the rivers... So most farmers have had their own management plans to reduce wastage, so that no ammonium nitrate is lost into the sea. State governments installed further cumbersome regulations on top of that...
Then there are the cities, the towns, the small communities where a few hundred thousands Fred Blogs have a lawn and begonias... Fred Blogs have lawns and to make sure they grow, they feed the bugger with twenty times the amount of stuff necessary — just to make sure... The lawns get patchy of course because the fertiliser burns the grass when thrown by the handful... Thus the Fred Blogs throw more fertiliser on it thinking they did not put enough and enough is never enough... Presently, most (all) of the super phosphate and ammonium nitrate runoffs to the Great barrier Reef come from cities. But "they" still blame the farmers, who, counting the pennies, use the same amount of fertiliser Fred Blog has thrown on ten square metres, to feed 20 hectares of crops..."

and let's not forget the "golf courses"...


extinction of corals and climate change...


Scientists generally assume that corals do not face a risk of extinction unless they become very rare, or their range is restricted. A new study, published in the journal Bioscience, reveals that global changes in climate and ocean chemistry affect corals whether scarce or abundant, and often it is the dominant, abundant corals with wide distributions that are affected the most.

A research team, led by Charles Birkeland from the University of Hawaii – Manoa (UHM), including researchers from the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), evaluated both the geologic record of past extinctions and recent major events to assess the characteristics of dominant corals under various conditions. During periods favorable to coral growth, the team found that natural selection favors corals with traits that make them more vulnerable to climate change.

The past 10,000 years have been extremely favorable for corals. Due to their rapid growth, Acropora species like table coral, elkhorn coral and staghorn coral, were favored in competition. Such rapid growth may have been developed, in part, as a defense against predation, hurricanes, or warm seawater. Acropora species of coral have extra thin tissue, porous skeletons and low concentrations of carbon and nitrogen in their tissues. During the present interglacial period, the abundant corals have taken an easy road to living a rich and dominating life. The payback, however, will come when the climate becomes less hospitable.


read more:


See story at top...


the minister for concrete, sludge, bitumen and stomps...

The federal government has approved several massive resource projects on the Great Barrier Reef coast, including the dredging and dumping of sludge near the reef and a new coal export terminal.

Environmentalists have hit out at the decision, with the WWF and the Greens saying it further industrialises and threatens the world heritage-listed icon.

The projects approved by Environment Minister Greg Hunt late on Tuesday include the dredging of 3 million cubic metres of sludge, or spoil – which will be dumped in the reef's waters – for the development of three coal export terminals at Abbot Point.

Mr Hunt also approved the building of a new coal terminal at Abbot Point by Indian mining giant Adani.

Approval was also given for a new processing plant for coal seam gas on Curtis Island, which includes 1.4 million cubic metres of dredging at Port Curtis and the mouth of the Calliope River near Gladstone. A pipeline to the plant – proposed by Arrow Energy – was also approved.

In making the decisions, Mr Hunt said he had imposed 148 strict environmental conditions on the Abbot Point and Curtis Island developments. These included water quality conditions, to ensure any effect on water quality from the dumping of dredging spoil was offset. Mr Hunt said the offsets – which would stop sediment entering the Great Barrier Reef marine park from land sources such as farm run-off – would require an improvement in water quality.

Read more:

failed in its duty to protect a reef...


By granting permission to dump in Reef waters the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority has failed in its duty to protect a reef which took millions of years to form, writes Louise Matthiesson.

Would we throw three million cubic metres of rubbish around the foot of the World Heritage listed Sydney Opera House? Or spew the same amount into the Grand Canyon or around the Vatican? So why has the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) agreed to allow dumping of the same volume of dredge-spoil into the waters of the Great Barrier Reef?

The Great Barrier Marine Park Authority today granted a permit to dump dredge spoil into Reef waters to expand the Abbot Point coal port, enabling coal to be shipped from proposed new mega mines in Queensland's Galilee Basin.

While this is another body blow for the Reef, no one could envy GBRMPA its job right now.

The Authority is charged with responsibility for protecting the Marine Park and World Heritage Area in a political environment where the Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has declared "we're in the coal business".

probity inquiry into the action of two of its board members is also due to be finalised today.

GBRMPA would also be well aware that mid-year UNESCO's World Heritage Committee will consider whether the Reef should be placed on the World Heritage "In Danger" List because of the pressures of industrial development and pollution. By February 1 the Abbott Government must submit a progress report to try to stave off this internationally embarrassing "in danger" tag.

read more :


How old is the great barrier reef?


The Great Barrier Reef is an extremely ancient, enormous host of living things, composed of living coral growing on dead coral dating back perhaps as much as twenty million years. Many generations of dead coral have built themselves into great walls of stone covered in a diverse range of living organisms such as coral, algae, anemones, sponges, fish, worms, starfish, turtles, molluscs, snakes, crustaceans, and an extraordinary array of thousands of species of plants and animals.

Although there is no direct physical evidence, first human contact with the reef must've occurred for some time. We know that Aboriginal people occupied great parts of the Australian continent for around 40,000 years. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have fished and hunted its waters and navigated between the islands of the reef region.

For large parts of that time, during periods of glacial activity, the area of the Great Barrier Reef was dry with large flat coastal plains. This area is at a depth of less than one hundred metres below sea level today.

read more:



conflict of probity...

Two of the board members who approved the dumping of 3m cubic metres of dredging spoil in the Great Barrier Reef waters are still under investigation for potential conflicts of interest including links to mining companies

The environment minister, Greg Hunt, ordered a probity inquiry last October into the appointments of former Townsville mayor Tony Mooney and Queensland public servant Jon Grayson to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) by the former Labor government.

Potential conflicts of interest were raised by ABC’s 7.30 with Grayson setting up and owning a one-sixth shareholding in the inactive Gasfields Water and Waste Services, a company which could benefit from a growth in the gas industry and which corrupt former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid’s son, Eddie Obeid jnr, also had a one-sixth shareholding in for a time

Mooney earns $250,000 as an executive for the mining company Guildford Coal.

Last week the board approved the dumping of 3m cubic metres of dredge spoil in Great Barrier Reef waters at Abbot Point, near Bowen in north Queensland, in a move widely criticised by environmentalists.

A spokesman for Hunt confirmed to Guardian Australia the probity inquiry had not concluded and the approval for dumping dredge spoil had happened while the investigation into Mooney and Grayson was under way.

“The minister is awaiting the report and advice from the GBRMPA chair and the secretary of the department,” he said.

the great barrier dump...

A reef already under stress


With a plan to dump dredge sediment on part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park set to go ahead, Joel Werner reports on the threats to the already fragile ecosystem and the scientists working to save it.

'Coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef is half of what it was 27 years ago.'

Katharina Fabricius, a Principal Research Scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), pins the blame for that sobering statistic mainly on storms, crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks and coral bleaching.

In the 1980s, crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) were the poster children for all that threatened the Great Barrier Reef. Though the starfish are actually natural inhabitants of a reef ecosystem, new research indicates that the frequency and intensity of their outbreaks is influenced by human activity.

Jon Brodie is a team leader at the Catchment to Reef Processes Research Group at James Cook University. His research implicates sugar cane farming, kilometres inland from the coast, in COTS outbreaks on the Great Barrier Reef.

'Nutrients in the sediment, dissolved nutrients from fertiliser or the like, do a whole lot of nasty things,' says Brodie. 'We believe they cause COTS outbreaks, and that’s reasonably proven I think.'

Water contamination is not always as direct or obvious a threat as, say, a mass dredging project. But, according to Brodie, its impact can be just as significant. The interconnectivity of waterway systems allows human activity to have significant effects across great distances.

'COTS are very fecund animals; each female can produce 5-20 million eggs,' says Brodie. 'They’re fertilised and drift in the water for about five weeks, and during that time they eat phytoplankton.'

COTS are a natural and ancient part of the marine ecosystem – evidence of their existence can be found throughout the fossil record. But the impact of agricultural runoff is shortening the duration between mass COTS outbreaks.

The Phytoplankton feed on nutrient runoff, providing a bountiful food supply for COTS larvae. More nutrient contamination means more larvae survive to adulthood, causing outbreaks and coral devastation. And the effect is long lasting; once nutrients are in the marine ecosystem, they stick around.

'The Great Barrier Reef is built on a shallow continental shelf, which means all the pollutants coming down the rivers are retained, and are being resuspended on a regular basis,' explains Fabricius. 'The main cause of the runoff is agriculture, contributing nutrients to the system at rates that are six-to-tenfold higher than in pre-industrial times.'

Agricultural runoff isn’t the only man-made pollutant to indirectly contaminate the marine ecosystem. Since the Industrial Revolution, the oceans have become 26 per cent more acidic.

'Ocean acidification refers to the changes in seawater chemistry that arise from increasing carbon dioxide in the air,' says Fabricius. 'Some people call it the evil twin of climate change because it’s caused by the same CO2 pollution, but it’s a very different thing. The chemistry of the water is changing.'

The acidification works like opening a carbonated drink, only in reverse. When you open a soft drink, CO2 moves from the liquid into the atmosphere, and your drink goes flat. On earth, increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere get absorbed by the ocean. When the carbon dioxide combines with the water it forms a mild acid and changes the seawater chemistry. That in term makes life more difficult for calcifying organisms like coral, whose calcium carbonate skeletons react with acid.

But ocean acidification is notoriously difficult to study in the laboratory. Fabricius stumbled across something while snorkelling off the coast of Papua New Guinea that may change everything, though: a natural laboratory, under the sea.

'I was just swimming along and saw all these bubbles coming out of the sea floor! At that time I was not aware of ocean acidification, so I just thought, "That looks peculiar!" and swam on,' Fabricius says. 'It took another half a year to find someone to get a gas sample for me. When I realized it was pure CO2 it was obviously sensational, it was really exciting. I knew we could do work there that can't be done anywhere else in the world.'

Carbon dioxide doesn't just bubble up through the reef in a uniform manner. By moving from the most intense seeps to areas where the bubbles are more sparse, Fabricius' team can examine the impact of varying concentrations of CO2 on the reef ecosystem. And in doing so, Fabricius can get a glimpse of what the oceans of the future might look like:

'We can basically travel in a time machine and see how coral reefs will change should CO2 concentrations continue to rise. Coral reefs in high CO2 conditions are greatly simplified in their structure: all the structural corals, the branching and foliose and table forming corals are missing.'

Structural changes to the reef in areas of high CO2 concentration led to unforseen changes to the ecosystem. Crustaceans disappeared, not because their physiology couldn't cope with the altered environment, but because the habitat change was too substantial for them to survive; without structural corals they had nowhere to live.

The impact of a more acidic ocean goes beyond habitat and behavioural changes; Fabricius' team have observed changes in the cognitive function of fish in waters with higher concentrations of CO2.

'The fish can't make decisions so easily, they don't recognize the smell of predators,' she explains.

Changes predicted for the global ocean go beyond increased acidification; sea temperatures are predicted to rise with climate change, and the warmer ocean will only make life harder for coral reefs.

At its sharpest edge, marine science is about ensuring the survival of key species. To this end, scientists like Madeleine Van Oppen, a senior principal research scientist at AIMS, are harnessing the biological concept of hybrid vigour in an attempt to breed reefs that are more resilient to predicted environmental changes: changes such as higher levels of CO2 and warmer temperatures.

'Basically what I want to try and achieve is to create new genetic combinations on which selection can act in the hope that we can breed corals with traits to make them cope better with environmental change,' says Van Oppen.

'There's a real concern now that in many locations around the world corals may not be able to adapt quickly enough to keep pace with climate change, so we're trying to help them,' she explains. 'These are really last resort measures but I think we need to develop the technology so that if it gets that bad we have the technology to restore reefs. The approach I want to take in selective breeding is to mix genetic stocks.'

and in the west too...

Ancient coral off Western Australia's Pilbara coast has been decimated and bleached by marine heatwaves, scientists say.

CSIRO and University of Western Australia researchers have been studying the area, which contains both World Heritage-listed reef and resources industry development.

The results from the first part of a five-year, $12 million study of the coastline are due to be released today.

CSIRO lead scientist Dr Russ Babcock says they were expecting to find some coral bleaching on the expedition but were surprised at the extent of it.

"There was a really extreme marine heatwave in Western Australian waters in the summer of 2011," Dr Babcock said.

"But we also found there had been more recent bleaching in parts of that area which had occurred in 2013 and it looked that some of the effects were even more extreme than 2011 in that region at least.

"It was strong enough that it seems to have affected some of these massive Porites corals, which form boulders that are up to four metres or so in diameter.

"It can be several hundreds of years old."

Corals start to starve once they bleach and can die if the heatwave persists.

Reefs that have high rates of coral death following bleaching can take decades to recover.


On top of the marine "heatwave", one has to consider the acidification of oceans due to EXTRA carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leaching into the sea.

cleared of crock...

Two board members of the agency responsible for protecting the Great Barrier Reef have been cleared of having a conflict of interest.

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt ordered an inquiry after claims that Tony Mooney and Jon Grayson held interests in companies that could benefit from expanding coal and gas production near the reef.

Mr Mooney is an executive at a coal company, while Mr Grayson is the state's top public servant and holds shares in a gas firm.

Both men helped set the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's position on ports at a number of board meetings.

Environmentalists had claimed that the men had a conflict of interest due to their links to resource companies.

However, the report's author and legal expert, Robert Cornall, says the allegations were unsubstantiated.

Mr Cornall found the members had not breached their public duty and had appropriately disclosed their financial and personal interests.

"The report finds that allegations of conflict of interest are unfounded," Mr Hunt said in a statement.

"The report finds that the two board members have at no time breached their public duty in regard to their position with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority."

They were at a crucial meeting last year when the (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) GBRMPA rejected advice from in-house scientists that it oppose port development in areas with the "potential to degrade inshore diversity".

So, which way did they vote on the development?... What is "public duty"? Saving the reef or dumping shit on it?

keeping a watch of the damage with a measuring spoon...


The Environment Department did not conduct independent analysis of how much it would cost to dump dredge spoil on land before permission was granted to dump it in Great Barrier Reef waters.

North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation undertook its own assessmentof expanding the port at Abbot Point and found dumping 3m cubic metres of dredge spoil on land would be prohibitively expensive.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) approved the dumping of the soil in the marine park in January with 47 conditions attached.

Dean Knudson, from the department’s compliance division, said the department accepted the port’s own assessment of how much it would cost to dump the spoil on land.

“The department did not undertake costing analysis of individual proposals. The proponent was in a position where they had undertaken costing estimates as you would expect commercial costings of the various options,” he told Senate estimates.

Questioned by Greens senator Larissa Waters, he said that the decision was “consistent with the world heritage convention recommendations” and that “there was a world’s best practice environmental assessment undertaken for this port”.

Waters has criticised the department for not undertaking its own analysis saying it was taking a mining company’s word for best practice.

“The proponents could well be overstating the cost of disposing of dredge spoil on land but the government doesn’t know because it’s simply relying on the proponent’s word, even though the proponent obviously has a direct conflict of interest,” Waters said.

“The community will be shocked to hear that our government is blindly relying on port developers’ claims and letting them dump dredge spoil offshore in the reef’s waters.”

Among 47 new environmental conditions imposed by the authority with the approval to dump the spoil within the park was:

• Measures to minimise impact on biodiversity, particularly coral.

• A long-term water quality monitoring plan extending five years after the disposal activity is completed.

• A heritage management plan to protect the Catalina second world war aircraft wreck in Abbot Bay.

• Offset measures for commercial fishing in the event of adverse impacts.

• The prevention of any harm to environmental, cultural and heritage values of any areas 20 kilometres beyond the disposal site.

• Environmental site supervision by an authority nominee.

• The establishment of an independent dredging and disposal technical advice panel and a management response group, to include community representatives.


This is the way things work: first THE PORT DEVELOPMENT does the damage then AN EXPERT IS EMPLOYED to study the damage and goes tut-tut-tut while pointing a finger in the air, as long as no-one is deem to be responsible for the "unfortunate" damage... And the heritage plan to protect an old war-plane in the vicinity is as ludicrous as doing damage somewhere else... 


rubbery stamping of dumping...

In the first of a three part series, Lachlan Barker looks at how it is possible the Federal Government has agreed to allow millions of tonnes of sludge and slurry to be dumped on one of the world's most spectacular natural wonders — the Great Barrier Reef.

THE MINISTER for Making a Lot of Money Out of Coal, Greg Hunt, has decreed that it is perfectly reasonable to dump three million tonnes of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

What lead to this raging piece of lunatic eco-bastardry?

Well here is a tale of woe that could have been inserted into a Yes, Minister or The Hollowmen script without changing a word.

First, a bit of history.

In 1983, the Hawke Government was elected, largely (arguably) due to its promise to save the Franklin River in Tasmania from being dammed. 

They kept their promise and the Franklin continued to run free.

However, while the focus of the nation was on Tasmania – surely a first and only in Australia's perennial mainland-centric view – the Queensland Government was quietly getting away with things in the Deep North.

One of these things was the controversial Daintree Road, officially known as the Bloomfield Track.

Environmentalists opposed the road, as they conjectured it would open up this area of massive environmental significance to development.

Needless to say, the Queensland Government of Joh Bjelke-Petersen and the Port Douglas Council were all for it.

The spotlight shone on the issue and eventually led to the area being declared a World Heritage area, though Joh and the PD council went as far as the High Court to try to stop this listing.

However, good as this listing was, it was kind of the wrong way round, as the road was there now, and development began its creeping pace into the now Heritage-listed Daintree.

I might add, the Hawke Government – then elected and comfortably on their way to a cushy life with index-linked pensions – were starkly silent on the Daintree issue.

The other piece of environmental nastiness that Joh and his cohorts were able to put in place was the building of a coal loading port at Abbot Point, near Bowen in North Queensland in 1984.

It had to be Abbot Point, as this was one of the few places in Queensland where deep water ran so close to shore, thus allowing access for deep-draughted coal ships.

However, Joh had a problem — the area around Abbot Point was in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The Park has been established by the Whitlam Government in 1975 to create greater control  of the park.

Gough did this mainly to stop Joh's, impossible-to-describe-the-lunacy-of, plan to drill for oil on the Reef.

Initially stymied by those busybodies in Canberra, Joh then got himself some good lawyers and hatched a plot that was to have ramifications that none of us really understood back then.

He simply cut off a little chunk of the Marine Park at Abbot Point and, with the area now removed from Federal control and without World Heritage listing, he was free to build the coal port.

Ecologically of course, a line on a map doesn't change the damage done by industrial port activities.

However, legally – since the area was now "out" of the Park – it was open slather, with environmental regulations gone and forgotten.

And so we come forward in time to today.

Various players in the field – GVK Hancock (joint venture between an Indian conglomerate and Gina Rinehart) and Adani (an Indian Coal giant) being two – wish to open up the nearby Galilee Basin to export even more coal. 

To do this, it was decided that the coal loader port at Abbot Point would have to be expanded — and here democracy and the rule of environmental law went out the window and show little sign of returning.

The expansion – originally for six new wharves, but now only for two, with the withdrawal of major players Rio Tinto and financial contributor, Lend Lease – calls for the dumping three million cubic metres of dredge spoil.

And the easiest, cheapest place to dump it is just offshore — inside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

And here we move into Yes, Minister territory, writ large.

In my initial rage, I thought that the Minister for Destroying the Environment, Greg Hunt, had simply threatened the Marine Park Authority with withdrawal of funding if they didn't fall into line.

Turns out, it was done in a much more silky smooth fashion, of which Sir Humphrey Appleby would have been proud.

Seeking some facts – Miranda Devine and Andrew Bolt, please note – I rang the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (pronounced grab-oom-pa) and was put through to their "media unit".

I asked this question:

"Did Environment Minister Greg Hunt ever threaten to withdraw funding if GBRMPA turned down the proposal to dump spoil in the Marine park?"

The media person then directed me to a statement on their website answering any queries in this area.

And the piece of ministerial doublespeak I found there could have been written by Bernard Woolley — Yes, Minister's favourite drafter of let's-confuse-the-minister-gobbledegook.

The first paragraph reads: 

'All of the documents released under this FOI are preliminary working drafts which were never submitted to the delegate, the senior manager responsible for GBRMPA’s decision, for consideration. As such they do not represent the views of the agency.'


Yeah, me too.

So I rang them back.


"Could you tell me what 'the agency' in this instance refers to?"


"The agency means the staff of GBRMPA; the 'Authority' strictly speaking only means the board members."

OK, so that's that — but then the rest of the paragraph could do with some work.

If these documents were never submitted to the 'delegate' for consideration, and do not represent the views of the 'agency', then why the naffing hell are they on the goddamned website in the first place?

And why on Earth are journalists directed to read it to get answers to their questions?

I'm still chasing an answer to this; I'll get back to you if I can machete my way through this thicket of gibberish.

So then we move onto the second paragraph, which contains three sentences, of which the first is: 

'GBRMPA is an independent regulatory agency which is required to make an independent decision under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 and the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981.'

That's clear enough isn't it?

GBRMPA will make the decision to dump or not.

Well no, actually.

For the second sentence reads:

'Consistent with our Act, we took into account the fact that the Minister had provided an approval, as well as the recommendation report that the Environment Department had provided to the Minister.'

This seemed to me to be saying that the minister and his henchfolk in Canberra took the decision first, before consulting with the GBRMPA scientists.

So I emailed GBRMPA again seeking clarification, I printed the offending paragraph:

'Consistent with our Act, we took into account the fact that the Minister had provided an approval, as well as the recommendation report that the Environment Department had provided to the Minister.'


Then asked this:

"This paragraph seems to be saying to me that the minister made his decision first, and the Agency's approval followed. Is that correct?"

Her reply:  

"Hi Lachlan. Yes, that is correct."

So, minister first, scientists last.

Then the last sentence of this paragraph reads:

'Absolutely no political pressure was brought to bear on GBRMPA.'

Excuse me?



I'll tell you this for nothing, if I was a civil servant in any department and I heard that the Minister had already made his decision, I know for sure and for certain what decision would be making.

I would be agreeing with everything he had said and done to keep my job.

So there we have it, for the first part of these articles on Abbot Point.

The Minister for Destroying the Environment, Greg Hunt, made the decision without reference to anything within a day's sail of being scientific.

Then he ensured his wishes got through in osmotic fashion to GBRMPA and they, to keep their funding and their jobs, affirmed this appalling catastrophe of a decision.

In the next article, we'll go into the financial unviability of the Galilee basin coal mines and hear from a voice of sanity — Greens Senator Larissa Waters.

Final note: before Senator Ian Macdonald and the rest of the "no-brain" brigade start accusing IA of being biased, I have twice sent emailed questions to Greg Hunt, giving him a chance to explain his side and had no reply.

Read more by Lachlan Barker on his blog,6297

destroying the reef more than previously thought...

Sediment being washed into the ocean from rivers is continuing to damage the Great Barrier Reef and is having a more widespread impact than scientists first thought.

New research into the impact of river run-off has led to renewed calls for better land management practices.

Sediment is one of the biggest pressures on the health of inshore reefs.

It clouds the water and blocks sunlight from reaching the photosynthetic algae that gives coral its vibrant colours. The algae depends on the sun to survive.

It can also kill or damage sea grasses, which are important food for mammals and fish because they also need the sun to survive.

The study shows that large river flood events during the wet season are washing sediment into the ocean, which is having a significant impact on water quality around the reef.

The sediment reaches far off the coast and lasts several months.

protesting against saving the reef...

A protest against “extreme green attacks” on contentious plans to expand a coal port in Queensland has won support from a Coalition MP and the port’s developer.

A rally will be held in Bowen next week in support of the expansion of the Abbot Point terminal, which has received government approval but is staunchly opposed by green groups.

John Smith, the rally’s organiser, said: “If we don’t have this expansion, I really don’t see most of north Queensland surviving.” Smith said he hoped to get more than 700 people to the protest.

George Christensen, the federal Coalition MP for Dawson, has encouraged people to attend the rally. North Queensland Bulk Ports, the developer of the Abbot Point project, said it would send a representative, while Andrew Willcox, deputy mayor of the Whitsunday regional council, will also attend.

The Abbot Point development will involve 5m tonnes of seabed sediment being dug up to allow ships to access the port. The vessels will be loaded with coal extracted from huge new mines in central Queensland and taken overseas, via the Great Barrier Reef.

the conservatives are no conservationists...

The Queensland premier has moved to reassure US president Barack Obama that his government is “solid” on protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

Campbell Newman criticised a “campaign of misinformation” by green groups for sending out the wrong message on the reef to international visitors.

In his speech on Saturday Obama warned that natural wonders such as the reef were under threat from climate change, and he wanted it to still be there in 50 years’ time, saying “I want to come back [to visit it], and I want my daughters to be able to come back, and I want them to be able to bring their daughters or sons to visit.”

On Sunday, Newman moved to reassure the US leader.

“If the president is concerned about the reef I absolutely want to reassure him we’ve got a government that’s really solid on reef protection, and there are many examples of that,” he told reporters.

“One the things I’ll be doing in the future is making sure that US officials perhaps know more about what actually is going on because there’s been a very strong campaign of misinformation by green groups.



Yeah, the reef is only degrading because the Greens are trying to stop developers, coal carriers, fertiliser users, polluters and other ultra right-wing CONservatives from protecting the reef by burying it under tons of mud or dangerous chemicals...

Should Obama believe Campbell Newman, he would reasons to admit himself into a loony asylum.

Tony Abbott is a coal idiott...

turdy on the reef...

The federal government’s plan to reverse the decline of the Great Barrier Reef is “weak” and requires greater action in six key areas, including climate change, according to a new report.

The set of recommendations, compiled by three of the reef’s most experienced scientists, warn that opening up huge new coalmines in Queensland is “too risky” for the Great Barrier Reef. They also say that it “will not be possible to develop and operate the largest coal ports in the world along the edge of the Great Barrier Reef world heritage area over the next 60 years without causing permanent damage to the region”.

The report, published in Nature Climate Change, calls for a shift towards better conservation values, Australia playing a “more active role in transitioning away from fossil fuels” and advocates a bans on the dredging and dumping of seabed spoil within the world heritage area.

It also recommends a revamp of the environmental assessment process for new developments, greater powers for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority over fishing and ports and a 50-year plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slash chemical run-off.

read more:

how eating bananas kills the barrier reef...

A big shift is underway in scientific thinking about the impacts of fine sediment pollution on the Great Barrier Reef.

New scientific research reveals the flood plumes from tropical rivers are travelling further and hanging around longer than previously thought, killing young corals and impacting reef growth.

In addition, the sediments—and the attached nutrients—are linked to the latest outbreak of crown of thorns starfish on the reef.

A draft government report seen by Background Briefing has linked poor water quality and nutrients from recent floods to the current starfish plague.

The new focus on fine sediment pollution coincides with dramatic footage received by Background Briefing of run-off from banana plantations in the Johnstone River catchment of the Wet Tropics, south of Cairns.

Bananas represent a small part of the total farming area in the Wet Tropics.  Sugar cane covers at least 10 times more area.  But banana plantations have almost doubled in area over the last two decades and more than 250 banana farms in the region produce more sediment and attached nutrient pollution per hectare than any other farming.

The footage, taken by Innisfail fisherman Martin Cunningham, was filmed from a drone in late June this year, when 164 mm of rain fell over two days—not an especially big deluge for the area.

'With such a small rain event I was shocked. I expected it to be bad but not on the scale of what I saw,' he said.

'Every single banana farm that we went past on that day of the peak rain event (had) huge plumes of red pouring out of the farms. It was unequivocal as to where it was coming from.

read more:

how sunscreen creams kill the reef...

Between 4000 and 6000 tonnes of sunscreen wash off swimmers annually in oceans worldwide, mostly in warm tropical climates where reefs are popular tourist attractions. But scientists at Marche Polytechnic University in Ancona found that many brands of sunscreen contain ingredients that can stimulate viruses in the algae, known as zooxanthellae, which live within corals. Zooxanthellae play an essential role in providing the vibrant colour associated with corals by supplying food energy through photosynthesis.


The chemicals found in sunscreens — paraben, cinnamate, benzophenone, and a camphor derivative — cause the viruses to replicate until their algae hosts explode, spilling viruses into the surrounding seawater, where they can infect neighbouring coral communities. Without the algae, the coral turns white and dies.

The study looked at the effect of sunscreen on corals in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans and the Red Sea. The research, which was funded by the European Union, indicated that the protection people need in order to enjoy coral reefs while wearing skimpy clothing is damaging precisely what draws tourists to reefs. In the case of the Great Barrier Reef — which attracts 1.6 million people each year — this could jeopardise an industry that the federal government estimates is worth at least $6.4 billion a year.

"Sunscreens cause the rapid and complete bleaching of hard corals, even at very low concentrations," said Roberto Danovaro, who led the research team.

"By promoting viral infection, sunscreens can potentially play an important role in coral bleaching in areas prone to high levels of recreational use by humans."

The study is the latest to highlight the extent to which tourism is damaging coral reefs. According to WWF, a quarter of the world's coral reefs is at imminent risk of collapse through human pressures; a further quarter is under a longer-term threat of collapse.

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more bleaching of the reef...

Authorities monitoring the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority have increased the coral bleaching threat level after divers found widespread loss of coral.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) chairman Dr Russell Reichelt said the area around Lizard Island, north of Cairns, and sites further north, had been hit hardest.

It warned there was a high risk of mass coral bleaching on the reef this month due to the hot, dry conditions associated with the El Nino weather system and high sea surface temperatures.

"This is the result of sea surface temperatures climbing as high as 33 degrees Celsius during February," Dr Reichelt said.

"In the far north, the surveys found severe bleaching on inshore reefs, along with moderate bleaching on mid-shelf reefs."

read more:

the killing fields at the GBR...


Once the dredging got going, we started to see diseased fish coming on board. We were seeing some terrible sights. Barramundi with huge welts oozing black muck. Fish bleeding from every orifice. My son Simon was out on a trawler and he brought a stingray in, put it on ice in the back of the ute. The ice was pink, the ray was bleeding from every orifice.

There wasn’t one live oyster or crustacean anywhere. They just vanished. We started to get crabs with holes in their shells about the same time. The dredge plume was very fine, the fish were taking it in through their gills. When we cut them up we found the gills were full of black silt — basically, the fish had suffocated.

Our total business was worth just under $16 million, we employed between 110-150 people depending on the season. We had developed a very good business, we handled the majority of the product coming in from the port, had a steady income even through bad seasons. We thought we had a big future.

We put in so much effort; it’s no exaggeration that we worked seven days a week,15 hours a day.

We were well positioned in the greatest mud crab harvest region in central Queensland — 50 per cent of crabs from Queensland came from that area. The inshore fisheries provided whiting, salmon, barra — a whole gamut of species.

We have some of the best fishing grounds in the world but now, we’ll soon we’ll be importing fish.

I've seen phenomenal suffering by fishermen who have lost their livelihood. For most of us it’s soul destroying. A fisherman’s life isn’t easy but it's a life of choice. Your time is your own, your business is your own. You watch everything out there, turtles, dugongs, seabirds — it’s a fantastic lifestyle.

Now it's all gone. Completely. Every bit of it — and it will never return. We’ve lost over a third of the inshore dolphin population.

I couldn’t stay in Gladstone any longer, I had to leave. It was too hurtful. I built a very good business for my family, my son and my grandchildren. We’ve had everything ripped from underneath us. There’s no consideration whatever for 30 years of work effort.

We’ve been stamped over by professionals who knew exactly what they were doing, what to say and when to say it. Every time we brought up something, they wouldn’t comment.

We took a bigger hit than everyone else in Gladstone; it took less than six months for everything to collapse. No compensation; not a penny.


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ah pauline, stop bullshitting us about subjects you know nothing about...


killing the mangroves...

The death of mangrove forests stretched over 1000 kilometres of Australia's northern coast a year ago has been blamed on extreme conditions including record temperatures.

About 7400 hectares of mangroves strung along the Gulf of Carpentaria died in early 2016 because of the unusual warmth, a prolonged drought and an El Nino that reduced local sea levels by about 20 centimetres, said Norman Duke, head of the Mangrove Research hub at James Cook University.

read more:

failing to preserve the reef...

Coalition loses vote condemning government over climate – politics live

Labor amendment to a Great Barrier Reef bill noting the Coalition is failing to protect the reef by not addressing climate change passes lower house. Follow the day live ...

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A $261 million Queensland Government water quality program is failing to protect the Great Barrier Reef from fertiliser run-off, with sugar cane farmers still using excessive chemicals on their properties, Right to Information (RTI) documents obtained by the ABC reveal.

Key points:
  • Forty-nine per cent of audited sugar cane farming businesses were not complying with the law
  • No farmer has faced prosecution
  • Scientists say there is no evidence voluntary measures are improving water quallity


In 2009, the Queensland Government passed a law setting "the optimum amount" of fertiliser farmers are allowed to use.

But the documents show widespread overuse of nitrogen and phosphorous, although there is no evidence any farmer has ever been prosecuted and faced the fines of up to $10,000.

The RTI documents, which deal with the financial year to the end of June, indicate that no farmers have been prosecuted.

When asked about prosecutions by the ABC in March this year, a Department of Environment and Science (DES) spokesperson said that: "To date, no growers have been prosecuted for contraventions of Chapter 4A of the Environmental Protection Act 1994".

The ABC has since contacted the DES again to inquire whether any growers have been prosecuted since then.

The law applies to three "priority catchments" — Mackay-Whitsundays, Burdekin and Wet Tropics — but the Government has considered broadening the legislation to include Cape York, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions.

Government audits of 344 sugar cane farming businesses in 2017-18 in the three "priority" areas showed 49 per cent were not complying with the law. The rest were either compliant, under assessment, had stopped farming or were engaged in other water quality improvement programs.


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