Queensland miners have agreed to a compensation plan for the damage their dredging work cause to seagrass beds. The compensation would be used to protect the remaining healthy beds in other areas or restore damaged ones.
Queensland Resources Council Director Michael Roche said the council would fully support the plan if it is comprehensive and deals with all issues the mining sector plays a part.
Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said at a coastal environment conference in Brisbane on Tuesday that now is the time for Australian states to begin discussing how mining firms could offset dredging damage to the seagrass beds.
He said action is immediately needed to stop the decline in the environmental degradation of vital marine habitats which are now under state jurisdiction. Besides dredging, the other causes of the damage to marine ecosystems are poor water quality, coastal development and natural disasters.
However, the Australian Greens said the compensation plan was insufficient and asked Mr Burke to provide protection for all seagrass beds. Greens Senator Larissa Waters compared the offsets to permitting people to leave trash in Eiffel Tower since these same people are donors to the upkeep of Taj Mahal.
Ms Waters said dugongs and other marine life would not migrate to other seagrass beds that are not damaged yet.
The compensation plan would potentially cover a planned new coal terminal at Balaclava Island off Rockhampton and the expansion of Abbot Point and Hay Point in Queensland's north.
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