Surfrider Foundation is hosting a Paddle Out in Torquay to rally against seismic blasting

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Surfrider Foundation is hosting a Paddle Out in Torquay to rally against seismic blasting

Sand Art credit: Breathe A Blue Ocean. Photo credit: Adam Stan Photography.
Words by Staff Writer

The event is calling all surfers, ocean lovers and coastal communities to come together to Save The Southern Sea, and oppose the largest seismic blasting proposal in history.

Surfrider Foundation Australia, a not-for-profit charity dedicated to safeguarding Australia’s oceans, is gearing up for its first public paddle out event of 2024. The event aims to galvanise community support against the world’s largest proposed seismic blasting permit, threatening Australia’s southern coastline with fossil fuel exploration.

Scheduled for 23rd March at Cosy Corner Beach in Torquay, the paddle out invites everyone to unite in opposition to the seismic blasting, which is the initial step in offshore oil and gas drilling. The proposed seismic blasting would involve releasing blasts into the ocean every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, for up to 400 days, with underwater blasts reaching ear-splitting levels of up to 250 decibels.

To get involved, all you need to do is sign up, bring your board of choice, your signs and your voice.

Paddle Out

  • Event Location: Cosy Corner Beach, Torquay, Victoria
  • Event Time: 11:30 am (into the water at midday), 23rd March
  • What to Bring: Sunscreen, hat, appropriate swimwear, water, signs/banners, and your preferred board
  • Parking Recommendations: Esplanade Carpark near Point Danger
  • Register: Sign up to participate here.

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around the region here.

Blasts displace, injure and kill marine life, with research showing harm to zooplankton, dolphins and whales. The practice can decimate fisheries, which has devastating flow-on effects for local economies and communities that rely on the fishing industry.

Once an area has been blasted, the next step is drilling and extraction of gas. Additional emissions originating from new gas fields will worsen climate change and its impacts.

Marine Scientist and Surfrider National Campaign Manager, Annie Ford, underscores the detrimental impacts of seismic blasting on marine ecosystems. “The impacts seismic blasting can have on marine ecosystems are unacceptable, with research showing seismic blasting causes habitat abandonment, mating and feeding disruption, and impacts the ability of marine animals to communicate,” Ford explains, highlighting the urgent need to halt this destructive practice.

“The only voices arguing seismic blasting doesn’t negatively impact the environment are all coincidently part of the fossil fuel industry that profits from the practice.”

Surfrider Campaign Director Drew McPherson emphasises the necessity for continuous action and community engagement to combat seismic blasting. “Seismic blasting is destructive on so many levels,” says McPherson. “We need to transition away from it. It’s not worth the risk.”

The event follows Surfrider Australia’s successful opposition to the development of the Great Australian Bight as a deep-water oil field in 2019. Darren Noyes-Brown, Secretary of Surfrider Surf Coast branch, echoes the sentiment, stating, “The community has everything to lose and nothing to gain if this project goes ahead.”

Surfrider Foundation, in partnership with Ben & Jerry’s, will also be hosting a screening of the film Southern Blast at The Astor Theatre in St Kilda, featuring free ice cream and live music. The film, directed by Matty Hannon and starring Australian free-surfer Torren Martyn, sheds light on the perils of seismic blasting.

Surfrider and Ben & Jerry’s are advocating for the revocation of the blasting permit, aiming to mitigate risks of oil spills, ocean fires, and widespread pollution. Australians concerned about the impact of seismic activity on the coastline and environment can engage with their local MPs using Ben & Jerry’s letter writing tool.

Amidst growing concerns for environmental preservation, Surfrider’s paddle out event stands as a resolute call to action, urging communities to safeguard Australia’s precious marine ecosystems against the perils of fossil fuel exploration.

Find out more about the Surfrider Foundation here