Protecting the Great Barrier Reef could cost economy: QRC

A MOVE to protect the Great Barrier Reef could come at an economic cost to Queensland, the state's resource industry organisation has warned.

On Wednesday afternoon Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk followed through on Labor's election commitment to protect the 2300km reef from dredged material.

She introduced the sustainable ports bill to parliament to ban sea-based disposal of port-related capital dredged material in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and restrict port-related capital dredging.

Ms Palaszczuk said restricting the dredging would also boost ongoing development at Gladstone, Abbot Point, Hay Point and Townsville ports.

But the Queensland Resources Council said over time the ban on dumping dredged material at sea would mean some future necessary port developments would not proceed, or be forced to scale back.

The four main ports represent trade worth $32 billion in 2013-14.

Ms Palaszczuk said the bill would protect the Fitzroy Delta, Keppel Bay, North Curtis Island and Port Alma.

QRC praised the bill for protecting the reef and said it would make Queensland's port regulations among the toughest in the world.

But the organisation warned it could make operating ports more complex and expensive.