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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 (GBRWHA), located at 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 actions of 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.

Proposed legislation

On 3 June 2015 the Queensland Government introduced the Sustainable Ports Development Bill 2015 to implement key port-related actions of Reef 2050:

  • restrict new port development in and adjoining the GBRWHA to within current port limits and outside Commonwealth and state marine parks
  • prohibit capital dredging for the development of new or expansion of existing port facilities in the GBRWHA outside the priority ports of Gladstone, Abbot Point, Townsville and Hay Point/Mackay
  • prohibit the sea-based disposal of port-related capital dredge spoil material within the GBRWHA
  • mandate that capital dredged material generated at the priority ports be beneficially reused or disposed of on land where it is environmentally safe to do so.

Also, consistent with Reef 2050, the Bill mandates master plans at priority ports to optimise use of existing infrastructure and address operational, economic, environmental and community relationships, as well as supply chains and surrounding land uses.

The government reaffirms its commitment to protect the Fitzroy Delta, Keppel Bay and North Curtis Island. These areas are excluded from the proposed Gladstone port master planned area.

Through the proposed legislation the government will balance the development of the state's major ports with the protection of the Great Barrier Reef, providing better economic and environmental outcomes for Queensland.

The new legislation demonstrates the strength of the Queensland Government's commitment to implement Reef 2050 and UNESCO World Heritage Committee recommendations.

Further information

  • Media release on the Sustainable Ports Development Bill 2015
  • Sustainable port development fact sheet (PDF icon 531 KB)
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