GUEST VIEWPOINT: Port Management in the Great Barrier Reef
Operating ports in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA) in Queensland, Australia, allows NQBP to showcase leadership and innovation in environmental management.
By Simona Duke, North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation
Seaports by their nature are situated at the sensitive interface between the terrestrial and marine environments. North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) also has the added responsibility, and privilege, of managing three major ports located within a unique and highly valued environmental asset – the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA) in Queensland, Australia.
As one of the world’s most amazing natural areas, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s most extensive coral reef system and has some of the richest biological diversity on Earth. It stretches over 1,500 miles in length and covers 85,000 square miles on the northeast continental shelf of Australia. It is home to approximately 3,000 coral reefs, 600 different types of soft and hard corals, 15,000 square miles of seagrass, 1,600 different types of fish and over 130 varieties of rays and sharks.
Operating ports in the GBRWHA allows NQBP to showcase leadership and innovation in environmental management. By monitoring and managing the interactions between our ports and the natural environment, NQBP is proud to be able to contribute positively to the long-term sustainability of one of the world’s most important ecosystems. NQBP has developed a long-term, strategic approach to environmental monitoring and research by partnering with leading science institutions and experts. NQBP has recently begun a $3 million, three-year monitoring and research partnership with one of Australia’s leading tropical marine science colleges, James Cook University. An investment of this nature is important not only to a continued stewardship role within the GBRWHA, but also to better support management decisions in relation to ongoing operation, maintenance and growth of our ports. Having long-term, robust and trusted environmental information on hand is critical to managing any impacts from the interaction of port activities and the marine and coastal environment.