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Dredging management

Photo credit: North Queensland Bulk Ports.
Photo credit: North Queensland Bulk Ports.

Strict rules apply to any dredging for ports in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Ports facilitate trade and the development of the regional, state and national economies, making them a major component of Queensland’s supply chain and economy.

As a routine measure, ports conduct maintenance dredging of channels and berths and in large ports to ensure ocean depths are appropriate for ships to safely navigate. Capital dredging, on the other hand, expands existing or creates new shipping channels and berths.

Dredging involves the mechanical removal of sediment and debris from the ocean floor. If not managed properly, dredging impacts water quality on the Great Barrier Reef and can damage habitats.

Taking action to minimise the effects of dredging

The Queensland Government has taken action to minimise the effects of dredging on the Great Barrier Reef while ensuring safe and sustainable port operations and development.

The Queensland Government has:

  • Prohibited sea-based disposal of capital dredge material within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (capital dredging is the one-off dredging required for port developments).
  • Restricted new port development to within current port limits and outside commonwealth and state marine parks.
  • Prohibited major capital dredging for the development of new or expansion of existing port facilities outside of the four priority ports at Gladstone, Abbot Point, Townsville and Hay Point.
  • Introduced the Maintenance Dredging Strategy for Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area ports to improve consultation, management and monitoring relating to maintenance dredging.