June 8th, 2023
Surfrider Foundation Australia in collaboration with Surfrider Surf Coast will hold a community information session focusing on one of the largest seismic exploration projects in Australian history, covering 5.5 million hectares of the Southern Ocean. The multinational companies responsible for the seismic blasting project were invited to share information regarding their plans, but declined the invitation to attend. The information session will be held on Wednesday 14th June at the Australian Surfing Museum in Torquay.
Multinational companies TGS and Schlumberger plan to seismic blast directly off the Victorian coastline, from Northern Tasmania to South Australia. Seismic blasting is the first step in oil and gas exploration, and involves sound explosions louder than atomic bombs being blasted into the ocean every 10 seconds. The proposed survey area is almost as large as Tasmania and is of critical importance to endangered species, commercial fisheries, tourism and marine ecosystems. The seismic blasts are known to displace, injure and kill marine life.
“Research indicates seismic surveys have significant impacts to ecologically and commercially valuable species, including zooplankton, scallops, crayfish and cetaceans,” says Marine Biologist, Annie Ford, “but research is limited, with very few species studied. The more we learn, the worse the impact appears to be.”
Images by Darren Noyes Brown
The plans to seismic blast the area have been met with widespread opposition, not only from community and environmental groups along the coastline, but from federal politicians and fishermen whose catch is vulnerable to the impacts of seismic blasting.
“These blasting practices occur offshore - happening out of sight. The community deserve to be informed on plans that could significantly impact their life-giving economies”, says Surfriders National Campaign Director Drew McPherson. “We're disappointed these companies won't attend a face to face information session to raise awareness, discuss concerns, or help educate all groups on what's involved”. We represent local communities who have clearly communicated their opposition to this proposal. This proposal benefits Multinational Corporations & risks everything for local communities.”
“Surfrider holds grave concerns that the regulator NOPSEMA (National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority) and the companies responsible for the survey will not listen to coastal communities and the diverse range of deeply invested stakeholders.”
In 2019, Surfrider Australia successfully opposed the development of the Great Australian Bight as a deep water oil field. “The local community here on the Surf Coast paddled out in a roaring protest against the Great Australian Bight issue,” said Darren Noyes-Brown, Secretary of Surfrider Surf Coast branch. “Now this project is even closer to us, with a community that strongly opposes it - we will proudly paddle out and do whatever it takes to stop this. The community has everything to lose and nothing to gain if this project goes ahead, not discounting the bigger picture that Australia can never make any meaningful contribution to climate action while the gas industry continues to expand.”
Documents obtained under Freedom of Information requests in February this year revealed that one of the companies involved, Schlumberger Australia Pty Ltd (SLB), was under investigation by Australian authorities. The regulator NOPSEMA has since confirmed that the investigation is in relation to seismic survey in the Otway Basin in 2020 and a suspected breach of the Offshore Petroleum Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGS Act).
The Torquay community information session takes place at 6:30pm Wednesday, 14th June, at the Australian National Surfing Museum in Torquay. There will be presentations by experts in marine biology, seismic blasting, and the environment, with Surfrider informing the community about what is proposed. The night will conclude with a 30 minute panel session during which the community can question presenters. Attendees are asked to register via Surfrider Foundation Australia’s website at surfrider.org.au.
For more information please contact Annie Ford - 0412 300 236