Whales Are David to Oil And Gas Goliaths

Tuesday, 15 November, 2011

The release of its Browse Basin LNG environmental impact statement by oil and gas giant, Woodside, exposes the inadequacies of the Australian Government’s Bioregional Planning process for the North-west Marine Region, according to IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare - www.ifaw.org).

“While the government is supposedly drafting greater protection for this marine region, Woodside is ploughing ahead towards its large-scale LNG development – protection for this area is effectively ruled out if this development goes ahead,” said Matt Collis, IFAW Campaigner.

Woodside’s proposal will bring construction, increased noise, shipping, and the risk of pollution to one of the most pristine marine environments in the world.  The development area includes Scott Reef and the wider Browse Basin – highlighted in IFAW’s report (Australia’s Last Great Whale Haven) released last week as important for whales and dolphins.

“However mighty they may appear the world’s oceanic giants, such as blue whales and humpback whales, don’t stand a chance against the noise, pollution and ship strikes that are brought by the offshore oil and gas industry,” Mr Collis said.

“We don’t underestimate the importance of the oil and gas industry but there has to be a balance struck between conservation and human needs.

“Before any new developments are approved or new leases are issued elsewhere in the region, we are calling for more protected areas, more transparent research and stronger policies addressing the industry threats such as increased shipping, pollution and noise,” Mr Collis said.

“Industry and government have responsibility to ensure the environment and threatened species are not put at risk during their operations and if that means restricted access to oil and gas fields then so be it.  We only get one chance to get this right,” Mr Collis said.

IFAW’s report on Australia’s Last Great Whale Haven was written and reviewed by leading marine scientists and highlighted the incredible biodiversity of the region and vulnerability of the whale and dolphin species that live in or migrate through the region.  It also underscored the gaps in knowledge of species and their habitats, recommending a precautionary approach to any existing or new developments.

Support IFAW’s call for greater protection at www.ifaw.org, find us on facebook.com/ifawoceania



•    A summary of the report is available here and a full version can be found here.

•    IFAW is part of an alliance of conservation organisations pushing for greater protection for marine areas - www.saveourtropicalsealife.org

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Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation