As of June 2014 it was reaffirmed that the proposal for a cruise terminal and other tourist attractions such as another casino is becoming increasingly liked by the Gold Coast City Council.
Many protest groups have spoken out about the huge impacts this would have on the area around Wave Break Island and The Spit but it has not stopped the government from planning this overhaul.
To build all these tourist destinations reconstruction of the area must take place. To make the bay deep enough for these ships, a large area of the ocean floor must be dredged which removes the soil to deepen the water channel. This will have many negative effects on not only the water but the biodiversity of the area.
The impacts of dredging include a change in the pH of the water, high turbidity, damage of mangroves, habitat loss and new introduced species. To dredge in Moreton Bay would cause tide sizes to change, water currents to change and may cause more erosion for the coastline.
Changes in pH are largely detrimental to an ecosystem. If these levels change it can increase the acidity of the water which then can lead to the fish and other animals in the area dying due to high acidity. Change in pH also causes high salinity which leads to the salt tolerance of mangroves and trees being overpowered resulting in extinction.
If the mangroves were to be removed it would cause habitat loss for many animals such as small fish, crabs, birds such as the ibis, bats and even the false water rat. Mangroves also filter the atmosphere of carbon dioxide, provide erosion control and are the foundations for many food chains including plankton habitat and leaf litter that is the basis of many food webs.
High turbidity is a detrimental effect of dredging, meaning the water is cloudy. If turbidity is high, it reduces the amount of sunlight that can get to the organisms in the water. This then reduces the amount of light needed for the photosynthesis of seagrass and algae.
No seagrass and algae means no food or habitat for many organisms and sea life, including the vulnerable and protected Dugongs that live in the bay area.
Another issue is that Cruise ships are unpredictable in whether they may sink, dump oil or accidentally release all the sewage from the tanks into our water ways. If any of these issues were to happen it would make a huge, disastrous impact on the ecosystem of Moreton Bay.
Oil spills are one of the marine ecosystems predators not only does it affect the marine birds but oil spills kill many diverse species of fish and also the plants and coral in the reefs and ocean floor. In addition, organisms can be hidden on the bottom of the cruise ships hulls; these organisms would most likely not be native species and could cause harm to the native marine life in the Moreton Bay area and become pests or threats like many other introduced species to Australia.
Although there are many negatives to this proposal there are also some positive impacts. Cruise ships would bring in thousands of tourists to the Gold Coast and Moreton Bay area every year, this will increase the tourism industry and also assist economically for Queensland. However, more tourists can cause larger foot and vehicle traffic on the small islands affecting those diverse ecosystems such as South Stradbroke Island and its flora and fauna.
There are a number of ways that the Gold Coast City Council can void all of this destruction. Firstly, the cruise ships could anchor off the coast and use small boats to bring the tourists onto the mainland like they do with many small islands in the pacific such as the island of Lifou.
Stopping the ships coming into the bay would help avoid many water quality and loss of habitat issues that arise from dredging and construction. Also preventing foot traffic on these islands can also be avoided by the construction of pathways.
Although may be detrimental to some plants in the paths way, it would be beneficial in the long run.
There are other alternatives to damaging the shoreline and sea bed. Whatever action is taken, it should be priority to protect our marine life and ecosystems even if the economy plays a huge factor.