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Ningaloo Coral Reef Australia Under Shell Oil Threat March 2011

Shell Oil Threaten Ningaloo Coral Reef:

Environment Protection Needed:  Everything must be done to stop Shell Oil, and all other oil companies, from drilling in this pristine place, Western Australia’s Ningaloo  Marine Park.

The large Marine Park in  Western Australia is  again under threat:  Shell Oil have applied for permission to drill for oil on the West Australian coastline, in the vicinity of the coral reef and Marine Park.  If they succeed in their application to drill, their drilling operations will be  less than 50 kilometres away from the fragile coral systems of the Ningaloo Marine Park in Western Australia.

This Western Australian Marine Park was under threat in the early 2000’s, when a company sought to build a tourist resort and marina there.  Very fortunately, this plan was ditched  in 2003 by the Premier of Western Australia, Geoff Gallop, who strove to keep the park protected from any plans which would threaten its survival.

Many celebrities and environmentalists worked hard for the preservation of the Marine Park, and its coral reef, at this time:   Tim Winton was one, an Australian author who donated his literary prize money, $25,000, for the campaign to protect the area.

The New Zealand Herald, 10th March 2011, has given us the run down on this coral reef and the plans which Shell have in store. Their article was written by Australian writer, Kathy Marks.

These plans by Shell Oil should not go ahead.  They plan to set up a drilling operation only 48 kilometres away from the western boundary of the Ningaloo Marine Park, at a depth of 565 metres, and hope to begin their drilling sometime around September, 2011.

Let’s hope that the Western Australian Government, and the Federal Government, block these plans to drill for oil.

This Marine Park of Western Australia, at Ningaloo, which is near the north western town of Exmouth, is one of the most unique places in the world.  It is one of the largest coral reef fringes of anywhere in the world, and it is currently being considered for World Heritage listing.

The Australian Federal Government’s application to Unesco describes it as “a unique place…….unsurpassed among coral reefs for displaying the interaction of history, physical environment and ecology”.  (NZ Herald ,10 March 2011)

David Bellamy, the British botanist also says this Marine Park at Ningaloo is quite extraordinary, and many other conservationists, too,  have described this Marine Park, with its coral reef, as being absolutely unique.

The Marine Park, and its reef, is home to some 500 species of fish.  Endangered turtles live there:  Four of the world’s seven types of turtles, all of which are endangered species,  are still found at Ningaloo Marine Park. It is also a favourite spot for larger fish and mammals to visit:  The whale sharks come here every year to fatten up.  Hump-backed whales, blue whales, tuna, and other marine animals are frequent visitors to the area.

Curbing human activity in this place is important:  Too many people are never good for the comfort of wild animals, including Marine life.  And human activity which involves such a dangerous enterprise as the drilling of oil should never be allowed, under any circumstances.

The Green’s member of parliament for Western Australia, Robin Chapple,  has expressed this very wish, that the area remain protected from the hands of the oil companies.  He, or she, has stressed that just one spillage of oil can cause a major catastrophe in the environment.

We have already seen this happen, only a year ago, on the Gulf of Mexico, BP’s Deepwater Horizon project, where a major accident occurred as BP drilled for oil in the ocean. This spillage resulted in a major catastrophe which killed many birds and fish.

In Australia, there has already been a major oil spill, though not as catastrophic as the BP one in the Gulf of Mexico.

This was the Montara oil spill of 2009, when an oil disaster occurred off Australia’s north west coast, in  the Timor Sea. Western Australia conservation manager of the World Wildlife Fund, Paul Gamblin, is quoted as saying that “only luck prevented the Montara slick from reaching the pristine Kimberley coastline 250 km away”.

Paul Gamblin told ABC News that we should be protecting these precious reserves of wild life and should not let oil and gas activity get so close.  “It’s a very, very fragile place”, he said.

Many  fish and birds who did not die immediately in the oil spill disaster of the Gulf of Mexico suffered long and slow deaths, covered in the oil slick which brought an end to their lives.  Some birds were saved, as we saw on television, but for every bird we saw being wiped down and cleaned of oil, there must have been thousands who were not in the clean up areas. And what of the fish?  They swim, away from our sight, so we did not see the suffering that they endured, except to see many dead fish being washed  up to the shores in the ensuing weeks.

Then there is the issue of our own health:  Many of the fish that we eat will become polluted by this oil.  Not all fish caught up in this disaster will have died, but will have lived on, carrying toxins from the oil in their flesh. Hence the stuff gets into the food chain. This is a one very good reason that  ALL DRILLING FOR OIL IN THE OCEAN SHOULD  BE STOPPED.

There is no justification for a company such as Shell Oil to drill for oil in the ocean.  And to drill near such a fragile eco-environment which supports so much fish life, sea birds,  and visiting mammals, is simply criminal.  This company, Shell Oil, is planning to exploit the area for its own financial gain at the expense of this precious environmental treasure, because, in the event of ANY calamity, it will suffer.

Coral reefs are very fragile things: In the event of a calamity, or even a small spill of oil, the whole of the coral reef and the fish it feeds, could perish.

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