28 July 2016


The Fight for the Reef campaign has welcomed the declaration of new Fish Habitat Areas to protect the Fitzroy Delta and Keppel Bay areas of the Great Barrier Reef, announced today by Queensland’s Minister for the Reef Steven Miles.

The announcement comes after years of community action to prevent two proposed coal port developments in the area, near the mouth of the Fitzroy River south of Rockhampton. 

The Fitzroy Delta’s massive system of mangroves and wetlands have remained relatively untouched, and are vital for the health of the Reef. The Delta filters vast volumes of water that flow into the Reef, and provides nursery grounds for juvenile Reef fish.

Imogen Zethoven, spokesperson for the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said the Fish Habitat Areas will spare this sensitive ecosystem from the worst of industrialisation such as coal ports and dredging.

“Today’s announcement clearly shows the possibility for great Reef outcomes when local communities stand up to vested interests like the mining industry, and when we have political leaders with the courage to listen and act,” she said.

“The home of snubfin dolphins, flatback turtles and thousands of migratory birds is no place for industrial projects. The Fitzroy Delta is the kind of place we should be celebrating with world-class, sustainable tourism experiences that grow local economies."

“The Delta has been described as the Sistine Chapel of estuaries. Now it’s majesty can be enjoyed and it can inspire generations to come,” Ms Zethoven said.

Louise Matthiesson, spokesperson for WWF-Australia, said it was clear there was strong community support for the decision and it should address World Heritage Committee concerns by ruling out major port developments in this delicate ecosystem.

“Protecting the Delta will support healthy fish populations, with benefits for both fishers and the resident dolphin population.”

“It was always totally inappropriate to develop the highly sensitive Fitzroy Delta and Keppel Bay region, home of the elusive snub fin dolphin,” she said.

“The World Heritage Committee wants to see evidence of Australia’s determination to protect the Reef, so this is the kind of responsible and effective action that will help address its serious concerns.”

Media contacts:

Mark Symons (WWF)  0400 985 571

Jane Garcia (AMCS)  0434 489 533