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Queensland ports play a critical role in the growth of the Queensland economy.

There are 11 trading ports in Queensland operating adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, located in Gladstone, Rockhampton (Port Alma), Hay Point, Mackay, Abbot Point, Townsville, Lucinda, Mourilyan, Cairns, Cape Flattery and Quintell Beach.

The Great Barrier Reef is important to all Queenslanders and the Queensland Government is committed to protecting this natural wonder for future generations.

The state government is working to foster economic development and create jobs while protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

The Queensland Government is implementing the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan (Reef 2050), the most comprehensive plan ever developed to secure the health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef for generations to come.

In accordance with the Reef 2050 the state government will work with stakeholders to implement a range of initiatives to ensure that port activity adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef is better managed.

Through current and new legislation, the Queensland Government will:

  • protect greenfield areas by restricting new port development in and adjoining the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area to within current port limits. These port limits are long-established and fixed in regulations under the Transport Infrastructure Act 1994 (Qld)
  • restrict capital dredging for the development of new or expansion of existing port facilities to within the regulated port limits of Gladstone, Hay Point–Mackay, Abbot Point and Townsville
  • ensure that any new development inside these port limits is also consistent with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act, the Queensland Marine Parks Act, their regulations and zoning plans
  • prohibit the sea-based disposal of material from port-related capital dredging into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area
  • mandate the beneficial reuse of port-related capital dredge spoil, such as land reclamation in port development areas, or disposal on land where it is environmentally safe to do so
  • establish a maintenance dredging framework which identifies future dredging requirements, ascertains appropriate environmental windows to avoid coral spawning and protect seagrass, and examines opportunities for beneficial reuse of dredge material or on-land disposal where it is environmentally safe to do so
  • require master plans at the major ports of Gladstone, Hay Point–Mackay, Abbot Point and Townsville which optimise infrastructure and address operational, economic, environmental and social relationships as well as supply chains and surrounding land uses
  • support on-land disposal or land reclamation for capital dredge material at Abbot Point
  • not support trans-shipping operations that adversely affect the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
  • further protect the Fitzroy Delta, including North Curtis Island and Keppel Bay which are clearly outside the Gladstone port area, through:
    • extension and strengthened conservation zoning in the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park - extension of the existing fish habitat area
    • establishment of a new net-free zone under fisheries legislation
    • additional protections in associated intertidal and terrestrial areas.

Further port re-development other than capital dredging may occur at Port Alma subject to environmental assessment and appropriate conditions.

The Queensland Government will require all proponents of new dredging works to demonstrate their project is commercially viable.

As a consequence of all of these actions, port development in the World Heritage Area and the adjacent coastal zone will be even more strictly controlled.

Further information

  • Phone 13 QGOV (13 74 68)
  • email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.