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Humpback whale migration threatened by planned seismic blasts

Blasts of air will be detonated every few seconds for days at a time, 24 hours a day.

February 2, 2018: Seismic testing approved to take place off the Newcastle Coastline could potentially impact migrating whales and exposes endangered and critically endangered species to possible harm.

The details are contained in the Environment Plan Summary and Statement of Reasons for seismic testing to be undertaken by Asset Energy and which has been approved by the Federal regulator, NOPSEMA, and allows testing until May 31 - the day before the official start of whale migration on the first of June.

“Whales and other endangered species do not adhere to the Gregorian calendar and do not know the difference between May 31 and June 1,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific Senior Campaigner, Nathaniel Pelle, said.

“Whale sightings off the coast of Sydney are an almost daily occurrence from the second week of May meaning  there’s a high likelihood that seismic testing could impact these much loved creatures if it goes ahead at the end of the approved window [1].”

The seismic testing, which consists of concentrated blasts of air being detonated every few seconds for days at a time, 24 hours a day, is set to take place in an area that the plan says will be home to 22 threatened species, seven of which are endangered and three critically endangered.

These species include humpback whales, loggerhead turtles and critically endangered grey nurse sharks.

Pelle said troublingly no tourism operators appear to have been consulted, with the environment plan stating that “while other impacts were considered, such as tourism, they were not deemed key with respect to potential impacts and no concerns were raised during the consultation period from any tourism related organisation”.

“Despite stating that no issues were raised around whale migration by tourism bodies, not a single such group are listed in the environment plan appendix as being contacted,” Pelle said.

“It is irresponsible and disingenuous for a body such as this to claim there were no concerns raised when it appears from their own appendix that no opinions were sought.”

“Sadly this is what we have come to expect from companies intent on fueling their obsession with fossil fuels at any expense.”

Notes for editors:

[1] https://www.nopsema.gov.au/environmental-management/activity-status-and-summaries/details/404

[2] http://whalewatchingsydney.net/whale-sightings

For interviews contact:

Simon Black

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Senior Media Campaigner

0418 219 086 / simon.black@greenpeace.org