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Queensland Resources Council
Economic Contribution

Since opening this page, the Queensland resources sector has generated the following contribution to the state's economy


HomeWorking alongside the Great Barrier ReefDO YOU HAVE A QUESTION? - Queensland Resources Council


Where are Queensland’s Ports adjacent to the GBR located?
Why are Queensland's ports important?
Can Queensland ports and the Great Barrier Reef safely co-exist?
How is shipping managed within the reef area?
What is dredging?
Why do we need to dredge?
Where does dredged material go?
Is there any need to dredge on or near the reef?
How far is Abbot Point coal terminal from the reef?
What are the most serious threats to the reef?

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Where are Queensland’s Ports adjacent to the GBR located? Back to top

They are located at Gladstone, Rockhampton, Hay Point, Mackay, Abbot Point, Townsville, Lucinda, Mourilyan, Cairns, Cape Flattery and Quintell Beach. Information about each of these ports can be found at

The Queensland Government has recently declared four of these as priority ports (Gladstone, Abbot Point, Hay Point / Mackay and Townsville) and is legislating to place tight restrictions on the activities that can occur within these established port areas, such as capital dredging.

Why are Queensland's ports important?Back to top

Almost all of Australia's goods are imported or exported via ship, which make us heavily reliant on efficient ports to send our agricultural and mineral commodities to the world and import food, vehicles and fuel.

Exports through ports alongside the Great Barrier Reef were worth more than $30 billion in 2012-13, representing 78 percent of Queensland’s total export volume.

Queensland's ports - Department of Transport and Main Roads website

Can Queensland ports and the Great Barrier Reef safely co-exist? Back to top

Yes. Commercial shipping has been occurring in the GBR area for around 100 years, with shipping safety standards among the best in the world.

All port activities, developments and shipping within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area are monitored and managed in accordance with Queensland and federal government laws.

How is shipping managed within the reef area?Back to top

All shipping is monitored through an automated position reporting system, known as REEFVTS. Pilotage is compulsory in strategic parts of the Great Barrier Reef, where ships more than 70m in length and loaded tankers (oil, gas, chemical), are required to have a licensed coastal pilot on board.

For further information on the REEFVTS see the link below.

For further general shipping management information, click the second link.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority - Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait Vessel Traffic Service (REEFVTS)
About coastal pilotage

What is dredging? Back to top

Dredging is an excavation activity to deepen and widen harbours and waterway channels.

Safe and navigable waterways are essential for modern and economically competitive ports for the import and export of goods.

Dredge material is thoroughly screened for contamination before being approved for carefully considered placement, either in the marine environment for maintenance dredging or on land for capital dredging.

Why do we need to dredge?Back to top

We need dredging to:

maintain safe depths in channels, berths and provide swinging room within a harbour to allow safe and efficient shipping to occur (maintenance dredging). This is because natural processes such as river discharges, waves and currents transport sediments into the channels and berths
create new areas of a harbour to facilitate Australia's import and export needs. (capital dredging). However this practice has now been banned in all but four priority ports along the GBR.
Where does dredged material go?Back to top

Dredged material relocation is highly regulated and requires extensive analysis of alternatives in accordance with international protocols and Commonwealth legislation. Material for ocean placement is tested under rigorous requirements set out by the National Australian Guidelines for Dredging, using accredited laboratories for the analysis of the material.

Under these and other strict environmental standards, dredging has been conducted successfully in the GBR for decades with minimal impact on the marine environment.

On 1 June 2015, the federal government’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Amendment (Capital Dredge Spoil Dumping) Regulation 2015 was gazetted. This regulation bans capital dredge disposal in the GBR Marine Park and will complement the regulation of capital dredging by the Queensland Government in their Sustainable Ports Bill, which was introduced into Parliament on 3 June 2015.

All capital dredge material must either be disposed of on land or used for another beneficial purpose.

Is dredged material dumped on the reef?


Is there any need to dredge on or near the reef?Back to top

There is no need to dredge in or near the outer reef and lagoon areas of the GBR Marine Park and World Heritage Area.

In the designated shipping areas the water depths and natural channels are sufficient to enable shipping to occur without the need for dredging.

In addition, capital dredging has been restricted to the four priority port areas, with disposal of the dredge material only permitted on-land or for beneficial reclamation purposes.

How far is Abbot Point coal terminal from the reef?Back to top

About 40 kilometres.

What are the most serious threats to the reef?Back to top

A number of scientific bodies, including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority have identified the greatest threats to the GBR World Heritage Area as catchment runoff, coastal development and overfishing/illegal fishing and climate change.

Neither an increase in shipping traffic nor port dredging has been scientifically recorded as contributing to coral cover loss or a historical decline in the environmental health of the GBR.

Full report: Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan
AIMS 27-year assessment of GBR damage