Paddle-out to mark protest

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Surfrider Margaret River's Tracey Muir and Drew McKenzie with former No Oil For South West Beaches protest organiser Rob Alder (centre).
Camera IconSurfrider Margaret River's Tracey Muir and Drew McKenzie with former No Oil For South West Beaches protest organiser Rob Alder (centre). Credit: Warren Hately

Conservationists in the Capes region will join a national weekend of action tomorrow, with a surfers’ paddle-out planned in protest against potential deep-sea oil extraction off Australia’s south coast.

Surfrider Margaret River spokeswoman Tracey Muir said conservationists and surfers were alarmed at activities in the Great Australian Bight which might lead to a revived No Oil for South West Beaches campaign.

In the Capes region, the paddle-out starts tomorrow from 11am at Gnarabup boat ramp, and residents concerned about future environmental threats are being encouraged to get involved.

Ms Muir said Surfrider wanted to highlight national concerns as part of the Fight for the Bight campaign focused on Norwegian oil company Equinor’s proposed drilling off the South Australian coast.

“Equinor has shown an interest in community consultation and getting a social licence to operate,” she said.

“We need the community to come out in force and show they don’t support drilling in such a special marine environment.”

Former No Oil campaign leader Rob Alder undertook the campaign in 2011-12 against advertising of exploration permits in the Mentelle Basin 80km off the Margaret River coast.

He said all residents worried about the environment should take the Equinor matter seriously because offshore oil exploration remained a potential threat to the Capes.

“We’re still under threat here until the blocks are removed from the register and a commitment is made by State and Federal governments to never subject this coast to the risk of a DeepWater Horizon-style event,” Mr Alder said.

“The same whales that pass us here mate in the Bight and calve up north.”

Equinor’s plan is to drill 370km offshore in an area that is home to unique aquatic life, with fears spills could lead to devastating environmental consequences.

Drilling has occurred off the Bight previously, but not at the 2km depths now proposed.

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