Western Port watchers, tourism operators, environmentalists and the community are all celebrating the record number of whale sightings this year in Western Port. With sightings of more than 110 humpbacks, one southern right and four orcas in the region whale watching cruises even extended their cruise schedules.
Conservationists are also celebrating the recent Phillip Island Nature Parks quarterly birdcount that revealed record numbers of sightings and significant sightings of Double bandedplovers, Red necked stints, Caspian terns, Godwits, and Red-capped plovers at Observation Point.
Meanwhile the oil industry and the Port of Hastings are taking advantage of the protected pristine waters of Western Port to park an unwanted oil exploration rig the West Telesto just off the Phillip Island coast line near Observation Point for an undefined period of time.The oil rig is owned and operated by Origin Energy and when fully operational costs around $500,000 a day to operate. When parked in Western Port the Hastings Port operator Patrick has refused to disclose the amount of money being received.
Western Port supports international and domestic tourism, eco tourism, marine life, bird populations and the oil industry and Patrick just want to park unwanted oil exploration rigs inthe same place.
Jeff Nottle Chairman of the Preserve Western Port Action Group is calling on the State Government to initiate holistic master planning for Western Port. Currently Western Port has multiple land managers, authorities and community organisations as well as the oil industryand Port operators all seeking to achieve different visions for this RAMSAR protectedwaterway.
The oil industry and the environment are colliding and Western Port needs protection andmaster planning to secure and preserve this natural asset and the vast tourist economy itsupports from the oil industry and further industrialisation.