Authorities in Australia
have approved plans to dump over a million tons of industrial dredge spoil close to the Great Barrier Reef. Commenting on the depositing of sediment removed from the sea floor during maintenance work at Hay Point Port, Larissa Waters, a senator for The Greens party said that "Dumping dredged sludge into world heritage waters treats our reef like a rubbish tip”. Despite such actions in this area being generally illegal, the ban does allow for the dumping of waste resulting from port maintenance work. The operator of the port has countered, claiming that their assessment of such sediment relocations indicates risks that are "predominantly low with some temporary, short-term impacts to [some bottom-dwelling] habitat possible."
Regardless, the ongoing plight of the world's coral reefs is at a critical level in many cases. The latest conservation status, as cited today in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations' latest report 'The State of the World’s Biodiversity For Food and Agriculture'
, almost half of global reef-building coral species is to some extent under threat. 1 percent is considered critically endangered, while 3 percent are endangered, 23 percent vulnerable and 20 'near threatened'.