Winning the Fight for the Bight

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Winning the Fight for the Bight

It takes a lot to win an environmental battle. The odds can be really stacked against you as companies (with deep pockets) and often the government of the day on-side fight to inflate their profits at the expense of the environment (and the community).

The Fight For The Night campaign was a classic example. Norwegian company EQUINOR secured a licence to drill for oil in the deep waters of the Great Australian Bight. If there was an oil spill (and the odds of a spill are pretty high when you drill for oil in 4,000m deep waters over 300kms from the coast) then it could impact every beach from Albany in Western Australia to Port Macquarie in New South Wales. Some of the world’s most popular beaches including Lorne, Bells Beach, Bondi and Manly would be covered in black sludge. As you can imagine the coastal communities along our great southern coastline were not stoked with this idea.

So what to do?

The coastal communities packed with surfers did the one thing that they do best… they protest, in the water in big numbers. The Fight For The Bight had just begun.

The major paddle out was held at Torquay on 3rd March 2019. It was an overcast day with a small swell pushing into Cosy Corner at the Torquay Front Beach.

No one had a clue as to how many people would show up. Local surfer Damien Cole working with Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast had pulled together a large crew of volunteers who spent the week making banners and planning a paddleout.

At 10am there were a few hundred people assembled on the beach. By 11am it was a few thousand with hundreds more, young and old making their way to the beach carrying surfboards, bodyboards… anything that would float.

The Torquay paddleout in March would feature over 2,300 people paddleout into the ocean off Cosy Corner and create on the biggest ceremonial circles ever seen in Australia. It was the first of over 70 paddleouts to be held around Australia last year as tens of thousands of people came together on the beach to protest against Equinor’s drilling plans.

On Tuesday 24th February EQUINOR announced that they were pulling out of the Bight. For most of the morning no-one believed the news as texts and emails flew around the country. ‘Is that true? is this real?’ For many of the organisers and participants it was surreal.

This was one of the biggest environmental victories in the history of Australia. The people had won… the Bight was safe…. over 20,000 surfers had sent one of the largest oil companies in the world packing.

The Fight For The Bight had been won!

Written by John Foss