Offshore gas plans may clash with parks
ENVIRONMENTALISTS are angry and commercial fishermen fearful after the federal government revealed plans for expanding oil and gas exploration in Australian waters.
Federal Resources Minister, Martin Ferguson, HAS announced 27 locations to be opened to offshore petroleum exploration.
The areas included acreage off the coast of Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
Jess Abrahams from the Australian Marine Conservation Society says he is angry that the announcement appears to pre-empt a decision expected soon on where new marine reserves will be located, Sydney media report.
“The resources department has jumped in before the announcement has been made and said these areas will be open to oil and gas exploration,” says Mr Abrahams.
“One arm of government is pre-empting what another arm is going to announce, and it is very frustrating.”
NT Seafood Council chairman, Rob Fish, says he’s worried about what the announcement could mean for fishermen in waters that are to be explored.
“The fishing industry has been left out of the equation,” says Mr Fish.
He says seismic testing, in which sound waves are directed at the sea floor to seek out oil or gas beneath, is particularly concerning.
During testing, seismic blasts could continue every eight seconds for two or three months, he says.
“I don’t like people dropping sinkers in the boat, never mind high-level explosions every eight seconds,” he says.
Mr Fish says he also has concerns about how marine parks will operate, with areas that were already being managed properly by fishermen effectively being put off limits.
He says even if fishing was allowed in marine parks, fishermen would not want a commercial fishing licence in those areas.
“The Green movement would be sitting on your shoulder every day saying they don’t like it,” says Mr Fish.
“It is not tenable as an operation.”