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The Bight

The Great Australian Bight is a pristine area of coastline that is home to beautiful marine wildlife. It is an important area for tourism SA & a fishing industry hotspot. It is now potentially home for Norweigan company Equnior’s oil fortune. The proposed plans to drill in the Australian Bight have sparked outrage in many Australian’s.

The Great Australian Bight is home to an incredibly unique ecosystem with “over 85 per cent of known species in the region found nowhere else in the world” according to the Marine Innovation SA. It’s home to 36 species of whales & dolphins- an important sanctuary for endangered species.

Equinor

Equinor is a Norweigan company that will be operating the project & are the “100% equity owner of the offshore exploration permits” (Source: Offshore Technology)

Equinor is not required to submit its proposed environmental draft. They have done so & published them to enable a more transient period, taking public comment for 30 days.

The draft outlines Equinor’s response to issues or risks the project will undergo such as the destructive effects of a potential oil spill.

Equinor plans to drill in the Stromlo-1 well, “372km off the coast of South Australia.” The Norweigan company believes drilling can be done safely. Major concerns for the environmental impacts have caused fury in Australian’s.

“This draft EP is the result of more than two years of careful preparation and our 1500-page plan demonstrates how we can drill safely and includes a robust emergency response plan.” said Jone Stangeland, Equinor’s Australian manager (source: The Guardian).

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (Nopsema) is the regulator of the plans.

The fight

Many efforts have been made to fight the drilling. The form to write a public comment to Nopsema has been shared all over social media. The cause hopes to create enough outcry to stop the proposed plans from taking effect.

Social media feeds are booming with creative ways to #fightforthebight. Trending hashtags like #BigOilDontSurf & #drillingiskilling spiking people to join the fight. The public comment is leading a movement to change the cause of the potential plans. People are using public outcry to show their concern in the hopes of amending plans & seizing drilling.

In an open letter submitted by surfing legends like Mick Fanning, it addresses the drilling plans explaining:

“An oil spill in the Bight would be catastrophic, & the southern coastline of Australia would never be the same. The Bight is wild and pristine and should remain that way.” (Source: Surfer.com)

An Open Letter From the Surfers of Australia

Following the initial attention of the proposed plans, we’ve seen images go viral on social media. Paddle outs, drone shots of messages written in the sand & a whole lot of social media outcry.

@greataustralianbightalliance “On May 19th, 21 communities across Australia came together to join Hands Across the Sand to stand up for the protection of the Great Australian Bight from risky deep sea oil drilling. The Port Fairy community show their support – big time! #FightForTheBight #underwaterwilderness #joinhands #unitethebight #GreatAustralianBight”

 

Damien Cole Independent for Corangamite has been leading the protest to Fight for the Bight, staging a series of paddle outs to raise awareness & increase the number of respondents making public comment to Nopsema.
Damien tells us:
The response since the Torquay Paddle Out has been incredible, we have been approached by people all over the country and the world showing their support for our Fight for the Bight. Its a testament to how incredible humans can be when issues like this arise and inspires me to bring the fight to our politicians and these corporations. It’s been such a show of support that we’ve begun organising paddle outs in every major city in Australia, starting with Burleigh Heads Sunday the 17th of March at 10am and then next Sunday the 24th in Melbourne. Dates for other cities are yet to be confirmed, but stay tuned and get ready to make some noise
Damien expresses concerns:
“The extreme lengths that both our government and Equinor are taking to explore for oil, in one of the most remote and last remaining pristine ecosystems is absolutely mortifying. They are both risking the wellbeing of a unique ecosystem, whilst also putting the livelihood of hundreds of communities and hundreds of thousands of people across 5 Australian states. None of this adds up in any context, whether it be environmentally, socially or economically. To risk so much for such little gain, particularly whilst we are in the midst of a climate crisis, is irresponsible and down right disgraceful, I for one am ashamed of our government and they should be too.”

The problem

An oil spill would forever change the coastline. Green Peace has described the waters as “one of the riskiest places to drill for oil, with wild waters & fragile ecosystems.”

The potential for an oil spill is particularly risky as the waters are unregulated, wild & damage is unpredictable.

Not only is the drilling at risk of causing an oil spill the drilling is said to contribute to global warming. We spoke to Sea Shephard- ‘an international marine conservation organization using direct action & a fleet of ships to protect, conserve and defend marine wildlife.’ 

Captain Wyanda Lublink who captained the campaign Operation Jeedara into the Great Australian Bight explains:

“There is now irrefutable evidence that climate change is real. With the impacts of climate change being felt on the land and the sea, our planets ability to support life hangs by a thread. With the recent Paris Climate Summit agreement, in a bid to keep temperatures below a global 1.5 degrees celcius increase, we have to keep all remaining fossil fuels in the ground. Drilling for more climate altering oil while putting the Great Australian Bight at risk, is another nail in our planet’s coffin.” 

The fragility of our oceans is at an all-time high. Our oceans are suffering, the plastic problem is drowning our wildlife, microplastics killing our fish. Equinor’s plans are yet another way to damage delicate ecosystems that are so vulnerable due to our actions.

The solution

Have your say. Sign the petition & submit a public comment. Nopsema is taking public comment until the 20th March 2019.

 

Feature Image via @greataustralianbightalliance Photography: @chechorleyphoto

Kelp & Co. IO Pty. Ltd. © 2019. All rights reserved.

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