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5 March 2010
Environment Protection Minister Peter Garrett today approved a prawn farm in Guthalungra subject to 19 strict conditions to ensure environmental protection for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area, listed migratory and threatened species and the Commonwealth marine environment, while creating important jobs for the region.
"The conditions I have placed on this aquaculture development, combined with good project design, will ensure that water quality in Abbot Bay, north of Bowen, will not be further degraded by this project and will set an important example of best practice environmentally sustainable development, Mr Garrett said.
"Before the facility is built, the design and operation arrangements must be independently assessed, and certified to be able to meet the approved limits of nutrients and sediments entering the bay.
"Any water used in the prawn farm will undergo complete treatment through sand filtration, sedimentation and settlement ponds, before it is returned to the bay, importantly with no net increase in nutrient and sediment load.
"Under the conditional approval granted today, Pacific Reef Fisheries will be required to monitor seagrass, coral and water quality in Abbot Bay, and provide regular results to my department.
"Should the levels of nutrients and sediment entering the bay from the facility increase to above those I approved, operations must be reduced or stop immediately, the incident must be reported to my department; and a review of processes must be done."
Mr Garrett said the building of the facility would be staged to ensure these requirements can be met.
"This is an important development, but given its environmentally sensitive location immediately adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, I have decided that the development should be completed in stages so that its impacts can be closely monitored. Therefore, Pacific Reef Fisheries will only be able to proceed to the next stage of its development once it demonstrates to my department that it has achieved no net increase over a full production cycle," he said.
"The Great Barrier Reef brings billions of dollars each year to the Australian economy and generates a huge number of jobs.
"However, the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report released last year shows the reef is under serious pressure from many factors, including the decline of water quality because of increased levels of sediments and nutrients.
"The Reef must be protected not only as a priceless natural resource, but as a fundamental part of the Queensland economy.
"This project demonstrates that positive environmental results can be achieved while also supporting employment and local economies."