Community meets with the Minister for fishy business Jonno Duniam over his support for oil and gas exploration off Tasmania’s West Coast

Members of Grassroots Action Network Tasmania (GRANT) have taken to Senator Duniam’s office today to express their concern over the seismic testing off Tasmania’s North West Coast, as well as plans for further exploratory gas drilling around King Island in 2023. Dubbed the “Minister for Fishy Business”, Liberal Senator Jonathon Duniam oversaw the approval of the 2021 release of over 3 million hectares off Tassie’s NW coastline, half the size of Tasmania itself, for oil and gas exploration, a mere 100km from Marrawah. 

These concerned members of the Tasmanian community are currently hoping to engage with Senator Duniam at his office or the nearby early polling booth where he is stationed this morning, and in his absence or lack of engagement, are writing him letters of concern regarding the planned gas expansion off our precious coastline and the impacts it will have on commercial fishing and coastal communities. 

GRANT spokesperson and recreational fisherman Alex stated that, “We’re here today in the lead up to the federal election to raise our concerns directly with the Australian Liberal Party about their plans for a gas-led recovery that will place Tassie’s beautiful and pristine coastlines at risk. A senate inquiry into the impact of seismic testing has already highlighted the negative impacts it has on fisheries, and none of its 19 recommendations have since been implemented. Instead, the seismic blasting has been ramped up in our marine protected areas.” 

Ally King, a marine science student and campaigner with No Gas Across the Bass, is also worried about the exploration happening off Tassie’s coasts, “Seismic activity in the Bass Strait has already been linked to a $70m loss to scallop fisheries, whilst a 99% reduction in whiting and a 73% reduction in flathead were attributed to a seismic survey conducted in Lakes Entrance”, says King.

“I am genuinely concerned that we are blasting these ecosystems before we even get the chance to understand them properly. The onus should be on the proponent to prove there are no impacts prior to exploration, and until they can do so the precautionary principle should be of top priority in the approval process.”

Despite acknowledging the damning evidence against seismic testing, Alex says that instead “Senator Duniam, Assistant Minister for Fisheries, is choosing to sell off massive areas of our ocean to foreign companies: Conocophillips, a US oil company, is currently working with 3D Oil to start extracting gas next year just 18km from King Island, whilst Beach Energy began their exploration for gas last summer just 57km away from Stanley. At the end of the day, Senator Duniam has chosen to do fishy business with these big multinational companies over listening to the concerns of his Tasmanian constituency. There’s absolutely nothing in it for everyday Tasmanians, and everything for us to lose with our precious coastline and commercial fisheries”.

“New South Wales has just banned offshore oil and gas in their waters because of the concerns of local community members – meanwhile they’re planning on going hell for leather in our waters. We want Jonno to stand up for our coastal communities and commercial fishers and stop the gas expansion before it’s too late” says Alex.