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Seismic testing for petroleum in marine sanctuaries WA

Seismic testing to look for petroleum has begun in protected marine areas off the coast of Western Australia after permits were quietly granted by the Abbott government. What sort of 'protected" areas would allow the mining of petroleum? It's protected on paper no more! Nothing is protected when it comes to the power of international mining companies, and their quest for profit and energy.

These reserves were set up mainly outside existing commercial fishing zones, mining regions and away from population centres, and designed to have minimal impact of human maritime activities.

The government has cited a lack of consultation and science as the reason for the review , despite 20 years of scientific, economic and social research, and years of consultation with commercial and recreational fishers, the oil and gas industry, conservationists and community groups. What could be more comprehensive?

The Abbott government is trashing environmental safeguards, and are simply bulldozing their way through "green tape" for mining access. Just like the Peace deal in Tasmania to protect their iconic wildnerness areas, no doubt mining and petroleum companies were major donors to the party were influential in destroying previously fought agreements.

The first phase of testing included areas of the Carnavon Canyon Commonwealth Marine Reserve (CMR) , which was declared a Habitat Protection Zone by Tony Burke in 2012. The release of Burke’s plans in 2012 came after more than 20 years of scientific, economic and social research, and years of consultation with commercial and recreational fishers, the oil and gas industry, conservationists and community groups.

Marine reserves are also extremely important in a changing environment. In a time of collapsing fish stocks, ocean acidification, climate change and pollution, it's imperative that our nation protects the Antarctic and Southern oceans.

The areas covered by three sanctuaries near the Abrolhos Islands are important migratory habitat for humpback whales, blue whales, sea lions, and breeding habitat for the western rock lobster.

Australia's largest animals, blue whales , are said to be at risk from "ships of deaf" run by the oil and gas industry. After a shift in control of seismic testing from the Federal Environment Department to an industry regulator, the whales may be forced to run a cumulative gauntlet of noise, a study has found.

If petroleum is found, of course these sancturies will be allowed to succumb to mining! Seismic testing caused stress and disorientation for marine life and could lead to physical injury for endangered species. The whole concept of "economic growth" is about continually loosening environmental controls, and encroaching on habitats of non-human species that are being destroyed by human quest for power, energy and growth!

While Australia is consuming more oil we are producing less at home, and we are also storing less of it. Australia is the only member of the International Energy Agency (IEA) to be in breach of its treaty obligation to hold a 90-day 'strategic petroleum reserve'. Australia now imports about 90 per cent of its crude oil for refining into petrol and diesel fuels at the five remaining refineries. Already there are implications for defence, as the former Air Force chief points out: the Navy is now completely dependent on import sources for F44, a specialised fuel for ship-based helicopters.

There's no doubt a desperation to maintain our energy supplies, and our economic model based on "growth", and fuel for "big Australia". A whale nursery, marine biodiversity and pristine ocean ecosystems are a mere triviality, it seems. They will be under great threat for spillages and disasters.

Tony Abbott and his colleages have no respect for the environment or science and seems to be actively trying to destroy both in Australia.

The Abbott government has granted petroleum exploration licences in a proposed marine reserve near Western Australia’s Abrolhos Islands. This does not inspire much confidence that conservation currently ranks high on their agenda. It's about short-term profits and trashing any science, environmental commitments, and being "open for business" at all costs!

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