Turtle Island Restoration Network (TIRN) and The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) are warning that the massive fracking gas, coal and other industrial projects planned for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef will push globally significant species of turtles closer to the brink of extinction.
The industrialization of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area will destroy and degrade critical nesting, feeding or migration habitat for six marine turtle species of international value.
“The Great Barrier Reef is home to some of the most amazing and vulnerable sea turtle species in the world who rely on a healthy reef for their future,” said Teri Shore, program director for Turtle Island Restoration Network, which has taken legal action over U.S. funding of massive Liquefied Natural Gas facilities in sea turtle habitat. “The Australian flatback lives entirely in waters close to shore and sandy beaches, making them highly vulnerable to coastal port developments and shipping. Alternatively, leatherbacks live more in the open ocean where increased ship movements will take their toll through greater injury and death. “
Shore said marine turtles and their habitat are threatened by both direct and indirect impacts of industrialization, such as dredging, drilling, vessel strikes, fuel and oil spills and water pollution.
Ship strikes alone have killed 45 turtles in Gladstone Harbor over two years after the Curtis Island LNG project began, compared with an average of two a year in the past decade.
“I’ve just visited Gladstone Harbour this week and I’m alarmed about the dredging, lighting and other impacts on turtles that we’re seeing there and that it could happen in waters up and down the Barrier Reef coast,” she said.
AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director Felicity Wishart said the cumulative impacts of industrial development on the Reef’s wildlife and coral had not been considered or evaluated. “The Federal government’s dredging report released on Friday showed the impact of dredging and dumping in the Reef’s waters is much worse than industry and government thought,” Ms Wishart said.
“Tourists come from around the world to experience and photograph wildlife like turtles and colourful reef fish, not port developments and dredge plumes.
“This week Environment Minister Mark Butler is expected to make a decision on the TO terminal, a further expansion of the Abbot Point port development, alongside important nesting habitat for the Flatback turtle. We urge him to consider the considerable impacts on the Reef, its wildlife and local tourism and reject the proposal,” she said.
The Turtle Island Restoration Network is a US-based, non-profit conservation organization.
See below for full media release and table on conservation status of marine turtles in the Great Barrier Reef attached.