Research over two decades shows Gladstone harbour ‘health’
GLADSTONE Ports Corporation has unveiled a compendium of research giving a tick of approval to the health of our harbour.
And GPC wants to use the findings to stop development near the Great Barrier Reef becoming a political football in the federal election campaign.
GPC chief executive Leo Zussino yesterday released the Curtis Coast Coastal and Marine Resource Inventory Report 2012, a summary of 22 years and more than $100 million of research into Gladstone harbour.
Mr Zussino said the 263-page tome showed an increase in commercial fishing catches, an increase in protected conservation areas, and consistent water quality over two decades.
That's despite a jump in shipping movements through the harbour and expansion of various industries.
"This demonstrates that the environmental impact of two decades of extensive development in the Port of Gladstone has been minor," Mr Zussino said.
"Are we impacting the environment? Of course we are. But we are mitigating that impact."
Mr Zussino said the timing of the release was political.
"The Great Barrier Reef is going to be a focal point during the election - this gives us a basis to point to the science," he said.
"(We) challenge the environmental groups to rely on scientific facts, as opposed to emotional and widely exaggerated claims."
Mr Zussino dismissed concerns that a drop in turtle deaths showed that the turtle population had diminished permanently.
But he admitted some marine life had died in GPC's dredging bunds in the course of the Western Basin Dredging and Disposal Project.
Mr Zussino also hit out at environmental campaigner Bob Irwin, who will visit Gladstone in August as part of his statewide push to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
"It's nonsense, to talk about the impact of shipping," Mr Zussino said. "There's been one incident since 2004, the Shen Neng 1,"
Mr Irwin and the Australian Marine Conservation Society were not available.