Sea Shepherd Australia is rallying support for the Preserve Westernport Action Group in order to raise awareness of the environmental impacts the proposed expansion of the Port of Hasting will have, particularly on whale and penguin populations around Phillip Island.
Dredging for the Western Port expansion will change the wonderfully unique environment of Phillip Island and surrounding neighbourhoods, environment, beaches, recreation and landmass.
Phillip Island is world renowned for the Penguin Parade, where millions of people from across the globe have visited to experience the magic of little penguins returning home at sunset to one of the largest penguin colonies in Australia.
Recently a number of whales, believed to be Southern Rights, including a mother and calf were seen close to underwater borehole drilling points in Westernport at Cowes, where massive borehole drilling has been occurring at up to 110 locations. Southern Right Whales are extremely sensitive to noise disturbances.
Jeff Hansen, Managing Director, Sea Shepherd Australia said, “The Southern Right Whales have come back from the brink of extinction to one of the healthiest populations in the world. In today’s oceans, this is rare and unique. If the Australian Government will not protect the whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, the least they can do is protect them closer to home and cease this destructive Western Port Development”.
Penguins. Photo: Getty Images“The little penguin parade is an iconic, world renowned tourism attraction, part of the UNESCO Western Port Biosphere Reserve, it has global significance and deserves the outmost protection from the threats the Western Port Development proposes.”
Sea Shepherd Australia is deeply concerned that the Port of Hastings Authority is disregarding the Federal EPBC Act, which states that activities like underwater drilling which are likely to harm whales, need to be approved by the Federal Environment Minister.
Additionally, virtually all of Westernport is a RAMSAR (http://www.ramsar.org/about-the-ramsar-convention) protected site (Convention on Wetlands – Intergovernmental Treaty) with six threatened mammals present at Westernport Bay: the swamp antechinus, the swamp skink, the southern right whale, humpback whale, the glossy grass skink and the New Holland mouse. Over 70% of Victorian bird species are located in Westernport.
The proposed Port expansion has been announced by the Victorian Liberal Government, which is foreshadowing the establishment of Australia’s largest and deepest international container port in a RAMSAR site, with a five kilometer wharf to service 3,000 vessels arriving every year and leading to another 4,200 trucks on the roads and a 113% increase in emissions and air quality degradation.
Mr. Hansen went on to say, “With up to 3,000 large vessels arriving every year, we will see boat strikes and whales deaths. Whales and dolphins live in a world of water and sound. They feed, communicate and find their way around their world using sound. This Western Port Development will have a catastrophic impact on the Southern Rights and Humpback whales ability to communicate and navigate in the area due to the destructive noise pollution from this massive expansion in shipping.”
WHERE ARE THINGS CURRENTLY AT?
Currently the Port of Hastings Development Authority is holding information regarding the planned container terminal and wharf close to its chest. This information would determine the amount of dredging required or where spoil would be dumped.
With the Victorian state election occurring in a few weeks time on 29 November, the plans for the expansion could be reversed, if the current Government is not voted back in.
The ALP has a policy of setting up a new Infrastructure Victoria to assess the actual need for a new Victorian Port and they have identified other locations near the existing industrial precinct near Geelong if one is required.
The Greens oppose the Hastings Port proposal. Independent candidates around Westernport also oppose what the Government is proposing.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Sign the petition, follow on Facebook, join the discussion forum and tell your local MP you will not accept the unnecessary destruction of Westernport and the blatant disregard for the marine life.
Key Stakeholders AGAINST the port expansion:
- Preserve Western Port Action Group
- Victoria National Parks Association
- Westernport and Peninsula Protection Council
- Environmental Justice Australia
- Blue Wedges Coalition
- Greens MLC – Hon. Sue Pennicuik
- Quit Coal
- French Island Port Stoppers
- Southern Peninsula Indigenous Flora and Fauna (SPIFF)
- Surfrider Foundation Australia