Gladstone Harbour and Port Curtis contain some amazing and spectacular marine and terrestrial landscapes, ecosystems, species and vistas. However all of this is changing at a rapid pace with multiple large scale industrial developments occurring.
What a mess and disaster it is causing to the ecological health of these marine, coastal and terrestrial environments. It has been the focus of multiple investigations since 2011, including: UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee (WHC) on the impact to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area; and scientific investigations by, state and federal governments, industry and independent groups.
A news article in The Courier Mail provides a brilliant aerial comparison of the turbidity and clarity of water in the Harbour using satellite imagery from 2004 and 2011. The article tells of the then interim results of the brilliant independent fisheries veterinary science work completed by Dr Matt Landos in Gladstone Harbour.
The interim and final reports from Dr Matt Landos as part of the Independent research on Gladstone Harbour are available for download on the Gladstone Fishing Research Fund website.
Industry in the Harbour area – An overview
Gladstone Harbour has seen many years of industrial and port growth over recent decades. Industry has been part of the environmental equation in the harbour since the 1960’s. However the current scale of development and cumulative impact from multiple industrial projects undergoing construction simultaneously within the marine and coastal environment of Gladstone Harbour is unprecedented.
So what projects have been in construction phase the past few years?
This may not be a comprehensive list however it gives an idea of the number of projects since 2010 that are building infrastructure within Gladstone Harbour and Port Curtis:-
What industrial operations already occur in the Harbour’s catchments?
More Industry information such as environmental compliance and emission points can be found for members of the Gladstone Industry Leadership Group
Gladstone Harbour Dredging
Due to the multitude of environmental impacts, issues and ecosystem sickness signals arising in Port Curtis and Gladstone Harbour since the commencement of large scale dredging in late 2010 for LNG facilities and the Western Basin, we have dedicated a whole page to it.
It is not just the Western Basin dredging that is proposed or occurring in Port Curtis. There were also several other projects with dredging occurring during late 2012 and some still going; Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal, APLNG and QGC’s gas pipeline crossing The Narrows and a tug base at RG Tanna. (An article in the Gladstone Observer sums it up well.) Also there are future plans afoot by GPC to duplicate the Gatcombe & Golding Cutting Channels in the outer harbour and an Environmental Impact Statement is being prepared.
Gladstone Coal Export
Coal is the largest export commodity shipped out thru the Port of Gladstone, accounting for some 70% of the total cargo export. With three LNG facilities under construction, we expect that gas and coal will be the major export commodities from the Port of Gladstone. We lament that the marine and coastal ecosystems and species of Gladstone and Port Curtis have suffered significant and unnecessary impacts from dredging and port facility construction, all for the export of non-renewable, climate changing fossil fuels.
LNG on Curtis Island
Further information on Liquefied Natural Gas plants on Curtis Island and within the Port of Gladstone can be viewed here.
Port Proposals on Curtis Island
There are two proposals for port facilities on Curtis Island that are public knowledge; one at the northern end of Curtis Island outside of the Port of Gladstone at Sea Hill area, and the other within the Port of Gladstone at Hamilton Point (south western end of the island). Both of these are Gladstone Port Corporation (GPC) projects. Further information is available here.
INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF GLADSTONE HARBOUR & CURTIS ISLAND http://www.environment.gov.au/coasts/gbr/gladstone/index.html
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee requested in June 2012 that the Federal Government complete an independent review of Gladstone Harbour. It took several months before the government got organised and announced the terms of reference for the Independent Review. Then they only allowed four to five months for the review to be completed by the Independent Panel and an even shorter timeframe for the community to have input. CCC wrote to the Federal Minister asking to be informed about what actions they were taking to initiate the review back in November 2012, however they chose not to respond until three months later when they announced the review. Recently, the new Environment Minister granted an extension time to the review. All submissions to the review can be found at http://www.environment.gov.au/coasts/gbr/gladstone/submission.html
Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership (GHHP)
In May 2012, the Premier announced that the Queensland Government would establish the Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership to monitor and improve Gladstone Harbour and surrounding catchments. Whilst this is a positive step forward to get industry, community, government and scientists working together, it is not a ‘fix-it’ solution to the many environmental impacts we have witnessed with recent industrial developments. A report card on the health of the Harbour is to be prepared by the Independent Science Panel in the near future.
Other useful links
Port Curtis Coast Research by the Coastal Zone CRC
There are 15 or more very valuable environmental technical reports focused on the Port Curtis area by the Coastal Zone CRC. Important information on contaminants in sediments, hydrodynamic modelling, crabs as bio-accumulators and intertidal wetlands are just an example of the report topics available for download online here. http://www.ozcoasts.gov.au/search_data/crc_rpts.jsp
Great Barrier Reef Blog http://www.greatbarrierreef.org.au
Informative & up to date blog on the events, activities, research and decisions affecting the Great Barrier Reef. Gladstone harbour is a focus area.
Save the Reef http://www.savethereef.net.au/
Gladstone Port Corporation - Biodiversity Offset Strategy Map
Interactive map of Environmental Areas & Heritage Sites in Gladstone Harbour, Port Curtis and the Fitzroy Delta. Download and turn map layers on and off to view fish habitat areas, world heritage area, seagrass beds, dugong protection areas, marine park area etc. GPC Interactive Map - Environmental Areas