SAVE SOUTHERN SEA: A CALLOUT FOR SURFRIDER’S 2024 PADDLE OUT

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Surfrider Foundation will host its first paddle out of 2024 as part of its continued opposition to the devastating fossil fuel operation off Australia’s southern coast.

Surfrider Foundation Australia – the not-for-profit charity dedicated to the protection of Australia’s oceans – will be hosting its first public paddle out event of 2024 to rally the community around its campaign to Save the Southern Sea from fossil fuel exploration.

The event will take place on 23 March at Cosy Corner Beach in Torquay, where everyone is invited to come together in opposition against the world’s largest proposed seismic blasting permit, aimed at searching for gas along the coastlines of Victoria and Tasmania.

Seismic blasting is the first step in drilling for offshore oil and gas. The seismic blasting proposal will release blasts into the ocean every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day for up to 400 days. The underwater blasts reach up to 250 decibels, louder than an atomic bomb.

“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,” says Marine Scientist and Surfrider National Campaign Manager, Annie Ford. “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.”

“Since we started the campaign, Australians have sent over 10,000 letters to politicians expressing their concern about this specific blasting proposal. People have been raising their voices, which has helped reduce the proposed blast radius from a planned 7.7 million hectares of ocean floor to 4.5 million. Effectively, we are inching closer to halving the damage to the region, but the work never stops. We need continuous action and the community to show up for the ocean if we want to put a stop to this dangerous action.”

Surfrider Campaign Director Drew McPherson knows more needs to be done. “Surfrider represents community, and so far, these blasting companies our Government is investing in have not been adequately engaging the coastal communities across the south-east states that will be exposed. Communities that will be the most impacted don’t have a say over what happens to their coastline. Seismic blasting is destructive on so many levels, and considering we have so much gas that we export the majority of it, we need to transition away from it. It’s not worth the risk.” 

In 2019, Surfrider Australia successfully opposed the development of the Great Australian Bight as a deep water oil field. “The local community here on the Surf Coast paddled out in a roaring protest against the Great Australian Bight issue,” said Darren Noyes-Brown, Secretary of Surfrider Surf Coast branch. “Now this project is even closer to us, with a community that strongly opposes it – we will proudly paddle out and do whatever it takes to stop this. The community has everything to lose and nothing to gain if this project goes ahead, not discounting the bigger picture that Australia can never make any meaningful contribution to climate action while the gas industry continues to expand.”

For those looking to attend and champion our Southern Sea, see details for the paddle out below:

  • EVENT LOCATION: Cosy Corner Beach, Torquay, Victoria

  • EVENT TIME: 11:30 am (into the water at midday), 23 March

  • WHAT TO BRING: Sunscreen, hat, appropriate swimwear, plenty of water signs/banners, and your board of choice

  • RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PARKING: Esplanade Carpark near Point Danger

  • REGISTERING AND MORE INFORMATION: See link: Here

“Surfrider’s last paddle out event on the Surf Coast in 2019 saw over 3,000 surfers and locals attend in and around Cosy Corner, Torquay. Showing solidarity against something much bigger than themselves. We know the SurfCoast community values the local coastline and the beautiful beaches it inhabits, so we are expecting a record turn out,” says McPherson.

For those looking to support the campaign but can’t attend on the day, as part of its ocean-protection tour in partnership with Ben & Jerry’s, Surfrider Foundation will be hosting a screening of their impactful film, Southern Blast, with free ice cream and live music at The Astor Theatre in St Kilda. Follow this link to buy tickets: Here.

The film Southern Blast by award-winning director Matty Hannon, which features iconic Australian free-surfer Torren Martyn, interviews with environmental marine consultants such as Annie Ford, and an original soundtrack including the likes of Australian musician Kim Churchill and Manyuung. Surfrider’s Tour D’ Ice Cream, which has already travelled from Hobart to Noosa, will continue its tour, with the next stop being in Melbourne on 19 March, followed by Torquay on 21 March.

Surfrider and Ben & Jerry’s aim to have the blasting permit revoked, eliminating the risks of oil and toxin spills, ocean fires, and widespread ocean pollution. Over the past five years, Ben & Jerry’s has focused its activism efforts on the topic of gas: launching six  campaigns encouraging the public and pressuring policy makers to stop permits and funding for new gas.

Australians concerned about the impact seismic activity will have on Australia’s coastline, oceans and environment can contact their local MP using Ben & Jerry’s letter writing tool here.

 

 

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