The following information details how the ban on the disposal of capital dredge material in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park will operate.

What does this mean for existing permit applications?

It means GBRMPA cannot make a decision to grant permission for the disposal of capital dredge material in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

What does this mean for future permit applications?

It means GBRMPA will not be able to permit the disposal of capital dredge material in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The Federal Government has put an end to capital dredge disposal once and for all.

What does this mean for existing permits?

It means an existing permit for disposal of three million cubic metres of capital dredge material has been revoked and cannot be used by the permittee.

When did the regulation come into effect?

The regulation came into effect on 2 June 2015, a day after it was placed on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments.

What is capital dredging?

Capital dredging is undertaken to create new shipping channels or enlarge existing ones, as well as berth areas, swing basins, marinas and boat harbour areas.

Capital dredging is not affected by this regulation, and can still be considered under a Marine Park permit application, subject to the agency's stringent environmental assessments.

Capital dredge material does not include amounts from very small scale dredging works (less than 15,000 cubic metres). For example, those associated with constructing an approach to a small boat ramp; material excavated to maintain an existing channel, basin, port, berth or other area for its intended use; or for protecting human life or property.

Dumping does not include burying a cable, pipeline or tunnel for infrastructure purposes, for example for water, telecommunications or electricity.

Where has most capital dredge material been disposed of in the past 5-10 years?

In the past five years, there was one major capital dredging project that involved offshore disposal. This was for the expansion of the Gladstone Port. The material was disposed of in the World Heritage Area, but outside of the Marine Park.

In the past 10 years, 60 per cent of all capital dredge disposal occurred in the Marine Park. The disposal was associated with two major projects — the Hay Point and Abbot Point port expansions.

Prior to steps being taken to end the disposal of capital dredge material in the Marine Park, referrals for future capital projects totalled some 29 million cubic metres of dredging over the next decade. Some of these projects had earmarked disposal in the Marine Park as a potential option.

How is capital dredging different to maintenance dredging?

Maintenance dredging is undertaken to maintain existing port and marina facilities to provide vessels with safe access.

Under what circumstances will disposal of dredge material in the Marine Park be permitted?

Permit applications can continue to be made for disposal of maintenance dredge material.

We would also be able to consider permit applications for disposal from very small scale dredging works (those resulting in volumes of less than 15,000 cubic metres), for example those associated with constructing a small boat ramp, or reusing sand for beach replenishment.

All permit applications will continue to be subject to GBRMPA's stringent environmental assessments. They will also need to meet ocean disposal requirements set out in the National Assessment Guidelines for Dredging and requirements under the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981.

Why is maintenance dredging necessary?

Maintenance dredging ensures vessels have safe and reliable access to our ports.

Over time, sand and mud builds up in shipping channels, potentially making them too shallow for navigation. Maintenance dredging removes this material to ensure the channels can be used safely.

This practice has been occurring at long-established ports for more than a century, meaning a longer-term approach is required to reduce disposal in the Marine Park.

Through commitments under the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, we will continue to investigate options for managing maintenance dredge material.

When did public consultation occur?

A public comment period was held between 16 March 2015 and 27 March 2015.

A summary of submissions can be found in the regulation impact statement.