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In partnership with Ben & Jerry’s, Surfrider Foundation will be touring Australia to fight against a devastating new fossil fuel operation off Australia’s southern coast

Surfrider Foundation Australia – the not-for-profit agency dedicated to the protection of Australia’s oceans – has launched a series of film events across Australia’s east coast to raise support for their campaign to Save the Southern Sea from fossil fuel exploration.

The campaign aims to put pressure on the government to cancel a proposed seismic blasting permit searching for gas across the coastlines of South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania. The joint venture between seismic survey companies TGS and SLB/Schlumberger has been confirmed to be the largest blasting plans on earth.

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 for up to 400 days. The blasts are louder than the atomic bomb detonated at Hiroshima.

Seismic blasting threatens local fishing and tourism industries, and risks migrating whale populations. “Seismic surveys have significant impacts to both ecologically and commercially valuable species, including whales, crayfish and plankton,” says Marine Scientist, Annie Ford, “But research is limited. The more we learn, the worse the impact appears to be.”

Surfrider Foundation Australia will be teaming up with Ben & Jerry’s for a film event series (Tour D’ Ice Cream) across Australia. The team will be building public support for the campaign by offering public screenings of a brand new film Southern Blast that celebrates the beauty of Australia’s coastlines and the potential devastating impacts of fossil fuel exploration. The tour will run from October to December 2023 and will feature local musicians, a panel of local high profile speakers, and free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for attendees.

The film was shot on location in the Southern Ocean and 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 Musicians Will Coleman featuring Maanyung. Running 37 minutes, the film is directed by ecologist and award winning director Matty Hannon showcases interviews overlaid across artfully shot scenes of the land and oceanscapes, as well as spectacular surf footage from Australia’s Southern Seas. Surfrider Campaign Director and film producer Drew Mchperson explains “The film was shot over several months in coastal communities across Tasmania, Victoria & South Australia. The film takes us to the heart of communities that are at risk of losing their local cultures, livelihoods and marine ecosystems from the planned blasting and drilling. It highlights the unique and special connection each and everyone of us has with the Ocean, how we rely upon it & the threats that it’s facing from the expansion of the fossil fuel industry.”

Surfrider’s Tour D’ Ice Cream will travel from Hobart to Noosa, culminating in a final event at Bondi Pavillion on December 8th. The tour will be led by a vegetable powered vintage fire truck that has been hand retrofitted by beach clean up organisation Emu Parade, run by Roland Davies. Throughout the tour, Davies and his fire truck will be visiting towns and cities encouraging residents to take action in exchange for a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. The action will be simple, as Ben & Jerry’s have created a digital petition which allows local residents and Australians everywhere to automatically send a letter to their local politician calling for the blasting permits to be revoked.

Since 1991, Surfrider Foundation Australia has been catalysing the passion of surfers and coastal communities to campaign for and implement better water quality management and environmental preservation across Australia’s coastlines. 94% of the community of King Island – one of the areas where this activity will be taking place – are opposed, but they require the support of the rest of Australians to have the blast permits cancelled.

Drew Mcpherson explains “Surfrider represents community, and with these blasting plans, coastal communities across the south-east states are so exposed. Communities who will be the most impacted don’t have a say over what happens to their coastline. Seismic blasting is destructive on so many levels. It’s not worth the risk”.

“We don’t have a gas shortage,” Mcpherson explained, “we have as much gas as we need to transition away from it, but our Government is investing in prolonging this dangerous fossil fuel instead of transitioning towards a safe and renewable future. They are meant to lead us, but they are leading our oceans and climate to environmental ruin.”

Surfrider and Ben & Jerry’s aim to have the blasting permit revoked, eliminating the risks of oil & toxin spills, ocean fires and widespread ocean pollution. “This region is inappropriate for oil and gas development”, Ford explains, “it is exposed to Southern Ocean swells, is directly over a Commonwealth Marine Park, and is crucial habitat for rare and protected species, including the blue whale and southern right whale. Seismic blasting is known to damage the hearing of cetaceans. Whales rely on sound to communicate, navigate and feed. At a time when whales are finally returning and recovering from the damage of whaling, they are being driven away by seismic blasts”.

Over the past four years, Ben & Jerry’s has focused its activism efforts on the topic of gas: operating five different campaigns encouraging the public and pressuring policy makers to stop permits and funding for new gas.

“At Ben & Jerry’s, we believe it’s worth fighting for climate justice – we must be stopping all new fossil fuel projects, and urgently transitioning to renewable energy. We’ve worked alongside Surfrider for years to support their fight to protect communities and coastlines from new gas projects. We fully support Surfrider’s goal of permanently protecting our oceans from offshore oil & gas through people-powered movements. We know that when communities stand together and fight for the things that matter, they can protect the places they love” explains Steph Curley, Activism Manager at Ben & Jerry’s.

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.

Surfrider Foundation Australia

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