IFAW comments on greater scrutiny of oil and gas exploration in an Australian whale hotspot

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Matthew Collis, Campaigns Officer comments:

“The International Fund or Animal Welfare (IFAW) recognises the unprecedented decision today by Environment Minister, Tony Burke, to demand greater scrutiny of offshore oil and gas exploration in an Australian whale hotspot.

 

The application by Bight Petroleum to conduct a seismic survey off the west coast of Kangaroo Island has been determined to be a controlled action under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC), temporarily halting deafening noise pollution in an area of critical importance to endangered blue whales and other marine life.

 

Of the hundreds of seismic survey applications since the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act came into force over 10 years ago, only one other has been deemed a controlled action.

 

IFAW welcomes the recognition by the Minister that this proposal requires a greater level of public scrutiny. With this decision, the Minister has put an issue that was very much ‘out of sight out of mind’ on the radar. This is an important first step towards ensuring seismic surveys and underwater noise pollution get the proper level of assessment required for the great risk they present to whales and other marine life.

 

This decision is a win for transparency. All the further information that Bight Petroleum has been asked to provide to the government since the initial application will now finally be open for public scrutiny, and the local community given a greater chance to have their say. This area and its marine life are vital to local livelihoods of fishing communities and the ecotourism industry on Kangaroo Island and this decision recognises the high level of community concern.

 

The Minister’s decision, while welcome, ultimately defers a final decision on whether or not exploration can go ahead. However, IFAW is confident once all the information is in the public domain, it will demonstrate just how difficult it is to explore for oil and gas in such an important region for marine life and coastal communities.”

 

Ends

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