Port Lincoln diver calls for electronic future

CHANGE: Peter Burkinshaw would like to see a future with boats powered by electric motors rather than relying on oil.
CHANGE: Peter Burkinshaw would like to see a future with boats powered by electric motors rather than relying on oil.

A local aquaculture diver has joined the opposition against oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight and called on the industry to go towards electric fuelled boats.

Peter Burkinshaw has worked as a diver since 2012, which included six months with Bhagwan Marine doing jobs for the oil and gas industry, mainly around Darwin.

Today he works as a diver doing maintenance for local aquaculture farms and is concerned about oil and gas exploration taking place in the Bight.

Mr Burkinshaw said for him drilling for oil did not make sense especially as industries, including the fishing industry, slowly moved towards the use of renewable fuel sources, including electricity.

"After an initial outlay of costs they will be saving money on fuel and protecting the environment," he said.

"When people say 'we're going to need oil', oil is a dinosaur industry, especially as we're moving towards renewable fuels for cars and boats."

Mr Burkinshaw said change was always slow but it should always happen and lead to creating new industries.

The future for boat propulsion was the focus of Wildcatch Fisheries SA president and Seafood Industry Australia board member Dennis Holder's 2016 Nuffield Scholarship report.

He said the most realistic approach would be for the industry to look at hybrid engines as "fully solar or electric powered boats are a long way away."

However once a transition occurred it would mean benefits for the industry.

"We'd be looking at quite substantial reduction in fuel and maintenance costs...and better fatigue management," he said.

Mr Holder said there needed to be more stability in fisheries management before any of the industries could look at investment into new technology.

He said fisheries needed to have a handle on species numbers, shifts and the affect climate change was having on the marine environment.

"With rapid change in the marine environment at the moment with climate change, they need to get a real handle on the fisheries' management in order to invest," he said.