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Say NO to seismic blasting near Rowley Shoals

Right now, there’s a proposal to begin destructive seismic blasting on the doorstep of one of Australia’s best diving spots, the Rowley Shoals and Mermaid Reef Marine Parks off WA’s Kimberley coast.​

These marine parks are home to hundreds of species of marine animals, many of which are protected.

Seismic blasting involves firing loud explosions into the seabed every 10-15 seconds, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in search of oil and gas. It can confuse, harm and potentially kill our precious marine life like scallops, zooplankton, fish species and whales. Seismic blasting could be devastating for these incredible Australian marine icons.

And it’s not just the impacts of seismic we should be worried about. Next comes the drill rigs, the industrialisation of our incredible coast, and the risk of oil spills. 

Modelling suggests the potential impact zone of an oil spill in this location would encompass some of our most iconic marine parks and reefs – including Scott Reef, the Kimberley Marine Park, Argo-Rowley Terrace Marine Park, and the Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park.

Please sign the petition and say NO to seismic blasting near Rowley Shoals!


Image: Rowley Shoals Marine Park, True North

Petition text

Dear Minister Ley (cc Shadow Assistant Environment Minister Wilson and Senator Whish-Wilson)

I am deeply concerned about a new seismic blasting proposal near the iconic and pristine Rowley Shoals off Western Australia’s Kimberley coast.

The Rowley Shoals are made up of three coral atolls, known as the Clerke,  Imperieuse and Mermaid Reefs, about 260km west of Broome, WA. Rowley Shoals Marine Park protects Clerke and Imperious atolls, while the third is protected in Mermaid Reef Marine Park. The pristine coral reefs and crystal-clear waters provide food, shelter and passage to hundreds of marine animals, many of which are protected and threatened species.

Due to its remoteness, this marine icon has maintained its near-natural state and is considered one of the best diving spots in Australia.  The area supports a key part of the regional economy through local tourism and recreational and commercial fishing.

Seismic blasting involves sonar cannons firing loud explosions into the seabed every 10-15 seconds. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. It can kill scallops and tiny zooplankton more than a kilometre away. It can damage whales’ hearing and keep them away from key feeding and breeding ground.

Research found that seismic blasting can have a devastating impact on fish species, with a near-total depletion of catch rates for whiting in affected areas and a massive reduction of flathead.

96 protected marine species (18 threatened) are likely to occur within the proposed seismic operational area including whales, sea turtles, sea snakes, sharks, rays, 31 different types of fish and 13 seabirds. All of these marine animals rely on underwater sound to communicate, navigate, mate, feed and detect predators. If seismic blasting went ahead it would interfere with these natural processes, potentially harming wildlife we should be protecting.

The risks to our protected marine species don’t end with seismic surveys. Modelling suggests the potential impact zone of an oil spill in this location would encompass some of our most iconic marine parks and reefs – including Scott Reef, the Kimberley Marine Park, Argo-Rowley Terrace Marine Park, and the Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park. This would devastate a near-pristine marine environment, the marine life that call it home and local communities, fishing and tourism businesses.

The recent Senate inquiry into the impact of seismic testing on fisheries and the marine environment made 19 recommendations to the Government. Most notably, was to keep seismic testing away from marine parks and biologically important areas (BIA).

There are Biologically Important Areas (BIA) for three species that overlap the Rowley Shoals proposal area – for the pygmy blue whale, the white-tailed tropicbird and the little tern.

The Senate inquiry also made it clear that the Australian public, coastal communities, scientists, recreational fishers and commercial fishers are deeply concerned about the impacts of seismic testing on our marine life and local fisheries.

Seismic exploration should not be permitted in areas important for our protected marine life and fisheries. I urge you to ensure seismic blasting does not go ahead in or around the iconic Rowley Shoals and Mermaid Reef Marine Parks.

Yours sincerely,

Right now, there’s a proposal to begin seismic blasting on the doorstep of the pristine Rowley Shoals and Mermaid Reef Marine Parks, off Western Australia’s Kimberley coast.

If it were to go ahead, seismic blasting would be devastating for the incredible variety of sea turtles, sea snakes, manta rays, whales, dolphins, sea birds, tropical fish, molluscs and sharks that call this area home.

Please sign the petition and say NO to seismic blasting near the Shoals!

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which our offices stand and we pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.