New study reveals coal boom on collision course with Humpback Whales
Press release - 13 May, 2012
Sydney 14th May 2012: A new study in the journal “Marine Ecology Progress Series” raises serious concerns over the likely impact of the coal and gas rush on Humpback whales, including on likely breeding and calving grounds near Mackay.
“What this study reveals is that humpback whales are literally on a collision course with the coal industry. We are talking about building a coal superhighway right through primary breeding grounds,” said Greenpeace campaigner, John Hepburn.
The study identified an area off the coast of Mackay as a likely breeding and calving ground, and an area off the coast of Gladstone as an important migration route. These are the same areas that are at the epicenter of the coal and gas rush – with a six-fold increase in shipping on the drawing board for these areas, as well as a massive increase in dredging.
The report states that ‘increased shipping can lead to increased ship strikes and have a serious impact on the recovery of whale species.’
Despite this, industry plans will result in over 10,000 ships slicing through the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area every year – equivalent of more than one coal ship every hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke is currently planning the implementation of a comprehensive strategic assessment of the impacts of development on the Great Barrier Reef, yet he has failed to rule out the approval of major new coastal developments during the assessment period. Projects which could be approved include the world’s biggest coal port at Abbott Point.
“The need to protecting critical whale breeding grounds and migration routes is yet another reason why a comprehensive strategic assessment of the impacts of development on the Great Barrier Reef needs to be completed before rushing through coal and gas port developments.”
As the authors of the study note “Identifying important areas for breeding and calving is essential for the future management of human interactions with breeding humpback whales.”
Greenpeace is calling on Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to rule out approving new coal and gas ports in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area before a comprehensive strategic assessment has been completed and a management plan put in place.
Smith J. Identification of humpback whale breeding and calving habitat in the Great Barrier Reef, MARINE ECOLOGY PROGRESS SERIES, 2012.
Front page Sydney Morning Herald story:
For media inquiries contact John Hepburn – Greenpeace Campaigner – 0407 231 173 or James Lorenz 0400 376 021. Email: