Seismic blasting has been proposed in the whale-rich waters off the Otways and Tasmanian west coast, the iconic Kimberley coast, and even the waters off NSW from Sydney to Port Stephens. Offshore oil and gas have plans to expand to one of the last intact tropical marine environments in the world – off Australia’s Top End.
The proposed expansion of the offshore oil and gas industry in our southeast waters to the north west of our vast continent is threatening the future of our oceans, critical whale migration routes and marine ecosystems found nowhere else in the world.
It’s like having dynamite go off in your lounge room, over and over. Deadly seismic blasting is part of the offshore oil and gas industry's exploration process where air cannons are firing loud explosions underwater every 10-15 seconds. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week.
Despite mounting evidence of the harm seismic blasting does to our whales, dolphins and fish, Australian law does not currently consider seismic blasts a threat to our marine life. Seismic blasting is still allowed in marine parks and in many critical ocean habitats. Evidence shows that these seismic blasts can kill shellfish and tiny zooplankton more than a kilometre away.¹ Blasts can damage the hearing of whales and keep them away from key feeding and breeding grounds. Research has indicated seismic blasting may even affect the immune system of lobsters.²
Mangroves are critical to marine ecosystems and our climate. They act as crucial nurseries for marine life like fish and turtles, which find shelter and food among the mangrove roots. They also act as critical carbon sinks, absorbing 50 times more carbon than tropical forests by area, according to Professor Norm Duke, a mangrove expert from James Cook University.
Mangroves are at risk from climate change. For example, around 10,000 hectares of mangrove forests died in the Gulf of Carpentaria in 2016 (ABC, 2016). The dieback was unprecedented and followed an un-seasonally low Monsoon rainfall, followed by extreme warming with sustained high ocean temperatures.
Source: ABC.net.au, 2016 (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-10/unprecedented-10000-hectares-of-mangroves-die/7552968)
Kelp forests are the ‘biological engine’ of our Great Southern Reef, stretching around the southern half of Australia. Great swathes of kelp forests in Australia’s temperate south west have disappeared, and their demise is probably permanent.
The Indian Ocean off the mid-Western Australian coast is warming twice as fast as the global average. The findings come from a 15-year survey in Western Australia, stretching 2,000km from Cape Leeuwin in the south, to Ningaloo in the north. Over that time, nearly 1,000 square kilometres of kelp forest have vanished.
With climate change driving warmer waters and more heatwaves, we can expect more of these dramatic changes in the future.
Join the movement of ocean lovers: No New Gas starts with us.