Oil Exploration Planned for World Famous Ningaloo Gulf

The Exmouth Gulf borders the world famous Ningaloo Marine Park, the longest fringing coral reef in the world and a critical habitat for whale sharks and migrating humpback whales.

Over the last decade oil exploration and production in Federal waters has slowly been encroaching on the ocean side of the reef.  Now, despite the devastation of recent massive oil spills in both Australia and the US, the state Government has just released a new drilling permit in the Exmouth Gulf to the East of the reef.

The Shire of Exmouth has distributed this information sheet on the new permit that includes maps. Info Sheet Exmouth Gulf Exploration FINAL 2

The Gulf is a critical stopover point for humpack whales migrating south with their newborn calves, habitat for endangered dugong and turtles, and is an important nursery area for fish that inhabit the Ningaloo Reef.  It is also home to a valuable  fisheries.

Less than 1% of WA’s waters are protected from oil drilling and overfishing, and the industry continues to expand into new and increasingly sensitive areas.  The list now includes the border of Ningaloo Marine Park, Exmouth Gulf, Barrow Island, Scott Reef, the Kimberley, Jurien Marine Park and Margaret River.

It is time to balance the growth of industrialisation of our oceans with increased marine protection.  A network of marine sanctuaries, like National Parks in the sea, will help protect important marine areas from overfishing, industrialisation and oil spills.

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Literature Review Shows Big Benefits from Marine Parks

A new literature review from the Dr Melissa Nursey-Bray shows environmental, economic and fisheries management benefits from MPA’s in both tropical and temperate waters.  It shows that even poorly designed MPA’s are better than no MPA’s at all.

The full report and extensive reference list can be downloaded here.

University of Adelaide media statement below:

A comprehensive report published this week by the University of Adelaide shows how the introduction of world-class marine sanctuary zones will benefit fishing activity in South Australia.

Dr Melissa Nursey-Bray, a senior lecturer in the University’s Discipline of Geographical and Environmental Studies, has reviewed over 350 scientific and social studies on existing marine parks. Her research shows clear benefits of marine parks from both an economic and environmental perspective.

“The report demonstrates that marine sanctuary zones act as effective fisheries management tools as well as providing conservation benefits.

“For example, in temperate waters off the coast of Chile, the number of lobsters has increased in sanctuary zones, repopulating previously depleted fishing grounds up to 50km away from the centre of the sanctuary zone.”

For more information about the report, or to interview Dr Nursey-Bray, please contact her on (08) 8303 3497 or 0437 738 635.

Offshore petroleum permits approved, but what about the whales?

Press release from Humane Society International (Australia), calling for marine sanctuaries in areas of critical habitat for endangered species that are being increasingly targetted for oil exploration…

Yesterday’s announcement by Resources and Energy Minister, Martin Ferguson AM MP, granting seven offshore exploration permits from the 2009 Offshore Petroleum Commonwealth waters off Western Australia and South Australia, has Humane Society International (HSI) asking “What about the whales?” The permits are located in waters of critical importance for Australia’s threatened marine life, as they are the key feeding, breeding, and migratory sites for a number of threatened species, including the endangered Southern Right whale, the vulnerable Humpback whale, the vulnerable Great White shark and the recently listed conservation dependent Southern Bluefin tuna.

 HSI has long been calling for the protection of these critical habitats, as they are known, to safeguard the future of our threatened whales, dolphins, sharks and other marine life. A detailed report was published in 2010 outlining the importance of critical habitats for threatened marine species and sets out ten recommended actions by Governments*. This includes a recommendation to strengthen legislation to ensure no actions detrimental to critical habitat are approved.

 “It is astounding that the Government claims to be making efforts to conserve our threatened whales whilst simultaneously approving projects that will directly impact upon their vital feeding and breeding areas” said Alexia Wellbelove of Humane Society International. “Instead of continuing to impact our whales, we should be identifying those places of most importance to them so that we can protect them. In the meantime, the threats to our marine life will continue unabated, as Government fails to protect their feeding and breeding places.”

 “Best practice alone will not provide our threatened marine life with reassurance. What is needed are stronger laws so that vital feeding and breeding places are protected against detrimental actions such as exploration work.” said Alexia Wellbelove.

Canadian field ‘fizzes like pop’ after CO2 injection

With Government’s, including Australia, spending billions of researching carbon capture and storage to try and keep the profits coming in from coal and oil exports and cheap fossil fuel energy – there is a very pertinent warning in this article…

” Since 2000, Cenovus has injected about 16 million tonnes of carbon dioxide underground to force more oil from an aging field and safely store greenhouse gases that would otherwise contribute to climate change.

But in 2005, the Kerrs began noticing algae blooms, clots of foam and multicoloured scum in two ponds at the bottom of a gravel quarry on their land. Sometimes, the ponds bubbled. Small animals — cats, rabbits and goats — were regularly found dead a few metres away.

Then there were the explosions…”

Full article online here.