Making Oil History tour visits Port Lincoln

Image: Jeff Tan Greenpeace
Image: Jeff Tan Greenpeace

Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior ship and the Fight for the Bight group will join forces next weekend in Port Lincoln to highlight the local and national resistance to oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight.

The Rainbow Warrior and Fight for the Bight will hold a flotilla in Boston Bay on December 9 to oppose oil drilling in the Bight as part of Greenpeace’s ‘Making Oil History tour’.

Fight for the Bight member Nel Taylor has been involved with the anti-drilling resistance in the Bight for the past two years.

“I would say the vast majority of the community don’t want to risk our beautiful lifestyle,” she said.

“Some people sincerely believe we can have both industries, but the more research you do you see that everywhere oil drilling has been the fishing industry has collapsed.”

Ms Taylor referred to the Bass Strait scallop industry closures, from 2000 until 2002 and again in 2009 and 2010 with the industry now back up and running.

Abalone diver Jonas Woolford said to say an entire industry near oil drilling had collapsed was not supported by research.

He said it was more accurate to say some fisheries had been affected rather than a whole industry.

The Rainbow Warrior has been involved in resistance projects since the 1970s, before it was bombed in 1985 for an anti-nuclear campaign in the Pacific.

The Greenpeace ship began its journey from Sydney on November 11 on its Making Oil History tour to help draw attention to the threat posed by oil drilling in the Bight.

Ms Taylor said job security in the local fishing and tourism industry was another reason for the groups opposition, with jobs in the proposed oil industry to last “20 or 30 years”.

“We have nothing personally against people who want the drilling, but we really believe they are misguided and don’t understand the true risks…if they did they would see it’s not worth it,” she said.

“How can anyone really guarantee 100 per cent that nothing will happen...it’s impossible.”

Ms Taylor recognised that many people may disagree with previous Greenpeace campaigns, but said this was a separate campaign that affected the community.

Greenpeace campaigner Nathaniel Pelle said the Great Southern Reef, which stretches from Perth to Sydney and contributes over $10 billion to the economy each year, was at risk.

“It's (Great Southern Reef) absolutely pivotal...to every fishing, aquaculture and coastal tourism job along the whole bottom half of Australia,” he said.

“No one knows how important this part of the Southern Ocean is better than the people of Port Lincoln...

“There are more unique animals here...than there are on the Great Barrier Reef and yet the government in Canberra is hell-bent on letting oil companies put it all at risk.”

Mr Pelle said drilling was banned in the Great Barrier Reef 28 years ago because the thought of an accident was unacceptable and that the same should apply for the Bight.

He said it was a national issue that should be taken seriously in both Adelaide and Canberra.

The December 9 flotilla in Boston Bay will be from 1pm until 2pm and Ms Taylor encouraged anyone interested to join them on the Port Lincoln foreshore and take to the water in a boat, surf board, paddle board or kayak.

Anyone wishing to join the flotilla or after further information can email Ms Taylor on nel.taylor@solarcitizens.org.au.