Saturday, May 25, 2024

Council blasts seismic testing

Colac Otway Shire Council has restated its opposition to seismic testing for gas and oil exploration in the Otway Basin by writing to the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese and other relevant ministers to voice its concerns.

Mayor, Kate Hanson says numerous scientific studies have shown that seismic testing interferes with marine life, including plankton and rock lobsters.

“The fishing industry is vital to the Colac Otway community and economy, particularly supporting families and jobs in the Apollo Bay region,” said Mayor Hanson.

Seismic testing enables oil and gas companies to map the potential reserves below the seabed by blasting the seafloor with high-powered airguns every 10 seconds and measuring the echoes with long tubes to map offshore oil and gas reserves. The blasts disturb, injure and kill marine wildlife.

Companies can explore the seas around Australia for seismic testing under permits issued by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Agency (NOPSEMA), an independent statutory body established by the Federal Government.

“NOPSEMA does not have the power to refuse seismic testing because the Australian Government currently has a policy that supports offshore oil and gas exploration, which is why we are lobbying Federal politicians,” said Mayor Hanson.

“Currently, companies do not share results of their seismic testing, which means the same area can be subject to seismic testing more than once.”

The Rock Lobster industry has been advocating for and end to seismic testing, while the Victoria Rock Lobster Association has presented the risks to the fishing industry, especially the rock lobster industry, in recent months stating that the breeding cycle can be particularly affected by seismic testing.

“The fishing industry has a direct benefit of just under $16 million, with an overall direct and indirect benefit to the Victorian economy of around $43.5 million,” said Mayor Hanson.

“This is an industry already under pressure following significant export challenges during the pandemic.”

If permits continue to be issued for seismic testing, Council has called for the provision of reasonable compensation to affected commercial fishing businesses caused by the testing and exploration.

Council would like to encourage the community to engage with this issue and write to State and Federal ministers and representatives expressing their own opposition to seismic testing in the Otway Basin to protect the local fishing industry and the marine ecology and habitats of the Otway Basin, the Council said in a statement today.

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