“At the same time as the government has opened its token map of reserves for public comment, it is handing out vast tracts of ocean to oil and gas companies,” said Matt Collis, IFAW Oceania Campaigner.
“The rampant oil and gas development in the region has brought significant threats to whales and dolphins, including endangered species. It is noisy, toxic, and dangerous and when something goes wrong it can be catastrophic, as evidenced by the Montara oil spill.
“With the future of Australia’s last great whale haven in their hands, the government and industry have an immense responsibility to provide more stringent protection measures. Before any new leases are issued we are calling for more protected areas, more transparent research and stronger policies addressing the industry threats such as increased shipping, pollution and noise,” Mr Collis said.
Some 32 different species of whales and dolphins live in or migrate through the area, including the recently discovered Australian snubfin dolphin and the world’s largest, yet still recovering, population of humpback whales. The government’s draft plan effectively ignores 28 species by only taking into consideration four species and even the level of protection offered to these four is inadequate.
“All the indications are that this is an incredibly special region. To jeopardise the area before we fully understand it is like throwing away a gift before unwrapping it,” said Mr Collis.
Support IFAW’s call for greater protection at www.ifaw.org, find us on facebook.com/ifawoceania
• A summary of the report is available here and a full version can be found here.
• IFAW is part of an alliance of conservation organisations pushing for greater protection for marine areas – www.saveourtropicalsealife.org
For media-related inquiries, contact:
Imogen Scott (IFAW Oceania)
Tel: + 0402 183 113