The iconic Great Australian Bight is a place of unparalleled natural beauty, but it’s under immediate threat. Australians are standing up to protect it though, and the momentum from this Groundswell of support is getting stronger by the day.
There’s a multitude of reasons to protect ‘the Bight’. Its waters contain even more endemic marine diversity than the Great Barrier Reef, and over 36 species of whales and dolphins call the region home. The protected southern right whale finds sanctuary in its calm coves to raise their calves, and endangered Australian sea-lions thrive in this undisturbed ecosystem.
But thousands of metres below its notoriously rough waters lies a giant oil basin—which, if extracted and burned, could easily put all of this at risk.
On the climate front, extracting this oil will blow Australia’s carbon budget [i]. And if we’re to keep our share of global emissions in line with the internationally agreed 1.5ºC limit to prevent the dangerous impacts of climate change, the Bight simply cannot be opened up to oil drilling.
Further, the people who live along the thousands of kilometres of Australia’s southern coastline depend on these waters being kept pristine. A booming tourism industry, abundant fisheries and peaceful communities rely on the Bight, and an oil spill would be catastrophic on so many levels.
This unique and spectacular marine environment is under threat, with plans to turn the Great Australian Bight into an oil field.
We commissioned independent oil spill modelling, and it showed that a major spill would shut down fisheries, cause local extinctions, and inundate the coastline from Western Australia to Tasmania. Even more sobering, after continuous requests to release its own findings, BP finally succumbed to pressure and made its modelling public. Scarily, its predictions were even worse than ours.
BP’s plans proved problematic, with independent oil and gas regulator NOPSEMA knocking back BP’s Environment Plans (twice!) before the oil giant pulled the plug and backed out of the Bight. But there are still Big Oil companies—including Chevron, Santos, Murphy and Karoom—with an eye to exploit the potential oil reserves of the Great Australian Bight.
Oil companies don't have a social licence to drill in our Great Australian Bight and, with your help, we’ll continue to prove this most important point.
We’re taking it straight to the top, with a petition aimed at the Prime Minister calling on him to ban oil and gas development in the Great Australian Bight—now and into the future.
Communities are mobilising, people are speaking out and momentum is growing. We’re calling this movement Groundswell, and it represents the sea of voices against Big Oil companies' risky plans to turn this iconic region into an offshore oil field.
We’re also one of the founding members of the Great Australian Bight Alliance, with fellow members Sea Shepherd Australia, which is uniting communities around the world to stop Big Oil in its tracks.