SEA SHEPERD launched Operation Jeedara late last week, joining forces with other conservation groups to stop BP’s plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight off Australia’s southern coast, in waters described as “deeper and rougher than the Deepwater Horizon disaster”.
Aboriginal Australians consider the Great Australian Bight a source of inspiration for songs and poetry. Bunna Lawrie, a Mirning Elder and whalesong man of the Nullabor has spoken of the place in the poetry of a people who have lived at the edge of that frontier for around 50,000 years.
Rich in beauty and biodiversity, the area boasts one of the world’s most significant marine sanctuaries. It is also Australia’s most important sea lion nursery, supporting orcas, great white sharks, southern blue fin tuna and other fish down to the small pelagic.
In honouring Lawrie, the Mirning, and the great white whale, the Sea Shepherd named the campaign as Operation Jeedara.
Captain Alex Cornelissen, CEO of Sea Shepherd Global said: “We need to be respectful of the last few remaining places this planet has to offer that are still teeming with life. The Great Australian Bight is one of those places.” He added that allowing “a company like BP to even get near the area is a surefire recipe for disaster”.
Jeff Hansen, managing director of Sea Shepherd Australia, added: “Our mission will be to showcase the beauty and the diversity of life that will be destroyed if BP even have a conservative spill, compared to their catastrophic spill in the Gulf of Mexico. With the recent spill last week by Shell in the Gulf, its clear that its not a matter of if a spill will occur.”
Wilderness Society South Australia director Peter Owen said: “With the impacts of climate change already being felt on land and the sea, our planets ability to support life hangs by a thread. As a father I am deeply concerned and feel we have an obligation, a responsibility and duty of care to do everything in our power to stop BP from drilling in the Great Australian Bight, for if there is one thing that is worth fighting for on this planet, we call home, its life.”
The expedition will showcase the Great Australian Bight and highlight what is at stake – a wilderness of global significance.
Sea Shepherd’s Operation Jeedara will aim to depart from Seaworks, Williamstown, Victoria in early August with the iconic MY Steve Irwin.
Several protests have been held and scheduled across the country to show solidarity to oppose BP’s plan.