Media Releases - 25 May 2020
Surfing Australia awards Peter Owen for campaign to protect the Bight
- Surfing Australia’s For The Greater Good Award celebrates efforts to preserve Australia’s surfing culture.
- South Australian Campaign Director Peter Owen said he was accepting the award, “on behalf of thousands of Australians who lined beaches, who paddled out into the ocean to say ‘No, Big Oil, you will not put our pristine coastline, the Great Australian Bight at risk.’”
The Wilderness Society’s South Australian Campaign Director Peter Owen accepted the Australian Surfing—ASB For the Greater Good Award yesterday on behalf of the Great Australian Bight Alliance.
The award goes to those who make a big impact preserving the Australian surfing landscape. The 2020 award recognises the Fight For the Bight campaign orchestrated by the Wilderness Society and its partners in the Great Australian Bight Alliance, which prevented yet another Big Oil company, Equinor, from exploiting the pristine waters of the Bight. The Bight is a marine wilderness home to endangered sea lions and a nursery for the endangered southern right whale.
Peter said he was accepting the award, “on behalf of thousands of Australians who lined beaches, who paddled out into the ocean to say ‘No, Big Oil, you will not put our pristine coastline, the Great Australian Bight at risk.’”
Watch Pete’s full acceptance speech upon receiving the ASB Greater Good Award
Reflecting on why the campaign to protect the Great Australian Bight from Big Oil has been so successful Peter said, “We got in early. Even though the campaign didn’t really hit the public sphere until the release of the film Operation Jeedara in 2016, and then the paddle-outs and events in 2018 and ’19, we’d been in there working since 2013. We were able to be proactive, not reactive. It’s incredibly hard to unpick, once the approvals start happening.”
Equinor shelved its plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight earlier this year. Its swift exit from the Bight came after the Wilderness Society mounted a legal case against the government’s decision to grant environment approval for Equinor to drill for oil. It followed sustained pressure from local communities, Australia’s surfing community and various environment groups as part of the Fight For The Bight campaign. Equinor’s departure marks the third Big Oil company, after Chevron and BP, to exit the Bight as a result of the extremely successful campaign.
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