The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has welcomed the decision by the Australian Marine Park Tourism Operators (AMPTO) to issue a legal challenge to the decision to dump three million cubic meters of dredge spoil in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef.
Felicity Wishart, AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director, said that this challenge to the dumping of dredge material in the waters of the Reef, under the Great Barrier Marine Park Act, was a new angle, different to the two current legal cases being taken by conservation groups in north Queensland.
AMPTO are challenging the right of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to issue a permit to dump 3 million cubic meters under its own Act, which requires a precautionary approach protecting the Reef's values.
"This legal action by the marine park tour operators is another reminder that everyone is worried about the impact of dredging and dumping in the World Heritage Area," Ms Wishart said.
"Hundreds of thousands of Australians have chipped in to support the legal cases being run by conservation groups. Now tourism operators are funding their own case.
"Members of the World Heritage Committee, millions of Australians, fishers, tourism operators and people around the world are deeply troubled about the risks posed by dredging and dumping in the Reef's waters.
"The Reef is one of the world's great natural wonders and we cannot allow it to be turned into an industrial park and a shipping super-highway.
"A strong Queensland economy needs a healthy Reef. Reckless industrial development could damage the Reef forever and cripple our valuable tourism industry which employs 63,000 people and generates about $6 billion annually.
"It is irresponsible to build one of the world's largest coal ports just 50kms from the Whitsundays and within the World Heritage Area," Ms Wishart said.