Media Releases - 15 November 2021

King Island residents reject unrequested infliction of fossil fuel expansion in their lobster-rich waters

  • Independent EMRS survey commissioned by the Wilderness Society finds 94% of King Island community oppose oil and gas exploration off King Island
  • Survey results confirm this fossil fuel exploration and potential extraction is imposed on a community that opposes it and is denied a real say in the process, despite fishing livelihoods that are likely to be harmed by it
  • Survey results provide clear evidence ConocoPhillips lacks the social licence to operate

    King Island residents held a rally to oppose seismic testing in their waters.

The Wilderness Society has released the results of an independent survey of King Island residents on seismic blasting currently being undertaken off the Island’s west coast by ConocoPhillips, the third largest US oil and gas company. The survey, conducted by Tasmanian research company EMRS, was commissioned to determine whether the local community supports seismic testing in King Island’s waters.

The survey was sent to every King Island household and every adult resident was invited to take part. Over half the island’s adult population responded, giving a strong survey result.

The survey found that 96% of residents oppose seismic blasting, 94% oppose all oil and gas exploration, and that 99% felt the marine environment surrounding the island was important.

The Bass Strait is currently the focus of intensifying fossil fuel exploration:

  • ConocoPhillips is currently undertaking seismic blasting to the west of King Island
  • Beach Energy is planning seismic blasting to the east of King Island (north of Stanley),
  • New marine seabed was quietly offered up by the Federal Government for exploration over Christmas

King Island residents were also asked about how they felt about their involvement in the approval process for these kinds of projects.

93% of respondents felt they should “definitely” have a say and 77% felt that they had had no say at all in the decision-making process.

Comments from Tom Allen, campaign manager, Wilderness Society Tasmania:

“King Island residents’ community rights have been completely ignored and their marine environment is being - to quote one local crayfisher - “smoked” by seismic blasting.

“The Morrison Government is enabling ConocoPhillips to inflict this on the King Island community, knowing the harm seismic blasting will cause, that burning gas will make the climate crisis worse and knowing that the International Energy Agency has said there should be no fossil fuel expansion.

“Worse still, despite evidence from the Tasmanian Government that seismic blasting 'permanently' harms invertebrates like lobsters, ConocoPhillips has rejected compensation to the King Island fishing community.

“These communities need meaningful community rights, such as genuine consultation, the power to reject things like seismic blasting, appeal rights and compensation if their livelihoods that depend on a functioning environment are impacted when that environment is degraded.

“The King Island community and too many other local communities are ignored and taken for granted by the oil and gas companies, their ‘regulator’ NOPSEMA (the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority) and ultimately, the Morrison Government. Treating communities so poorly is the height of arrogance.

“It’s one thing to have a Federal Government with no plan to fix the climate and biodiversity crisis, but to be actively making things worse, locally for King Islanders and for the global community by expanding fossil fuels, is criminal."

EMRS Seismic Testing Survey of King Island Residents

Contact: Tom Allen, 0434 614 323