World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) Australia insists no new coal ports are required along the Great Barrier Reef coastline.
The conservation group has based their claims on the Great Barrier Reef Ports Strategy Economic Analysis which was prepared by the Queensland Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning (DSDIP), the ABC reported.
The report indicates that the state’s three existing coal ports are currently only operating at 52 per cent of their capacity, International Business Times reported.
WWF Australia spokesman Nick Heath said that shortly after the report was released the government called for expressions of interest in expanding Abbot Point, near Bowen in north Queensland.
"We're not actually using the ports we've already got," he said.
"Why are we thinking we need to build more ports and cause more destruction of the reef, more destruction of these fishing nurseries when we could better utilise the ones we've got already?
"These ports are in sensitive areas – the nurseries of the fish that people like to catch out on the reef, back on the coastlines where these ports would be requiring enormous dredging."
The move to expand the ports was defended by the state’s Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney who said the central and north Queensland ports need to be expanded to meet the demands of future export targets and resource projects.
However, Heath argues that using the pre-existing infrastructure more efficiently should be sufficient to meet the projected demands.
"Existing infrastructure can meet this demand. We just need to use it more efficiently. Why waste billions of dollars building new ports when we don't use the one we have already? Why risk damaging an international icon like the Great Barrier Reef?" Heath said.