Surfers, ocean-lovers and concerned citizens from around the Great Lakes will take part in a national day of action tomorrow, Saturday, November 23, against a proposal by Norwegian oil company Equinor to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight.
Organised by the Great Australian Bight Alliance, the 'Fight for the Bight' paddle-outs will take place at over 50 beaches around the Nation, with demonstrations organised locally at both Forster and Pacific Palms.
Forster residents Mark Banks and David Rankin have organised the Forster paddle-out, which will take place at Forster Main Beach at 10am.
While Mr Banks said the demonstration had been organised in a fairly short time frame, he expected numerous locals would join in the paddle-out, with Forster Tuncurry Boardriders on board and a photographer and drone pilot arranged to document the event.
You look at other spills and the impact has just been calamitous.Mark Banks
Mr Banks said with projected models showing that an oil spill in the Bight could impact coastlines from Port Macquarie to Perth, there was plenty of reason to oppose the proposal.
Beyond that, he believed the demonstrations had the potential to send a strong message to those in power that people were fed up with fossil fuels being prioritised over more renewable and environmentally-friendly energy sources.
"There's total disregard by the government for promoting renewable energy sources," he said.
"So another oil well in the Bight is not going to help.
"There's not only that, there's also the possibility they'll be doing exploratory testing in Sydney and Newcastle - not the same company, but still."
Pacific Palms' surfer Mick Moltzen has helped organise the paddle-out that will take place at North Boomerang Beach at 10am.
Like the Forster organisers, he was unsure of how many people would be taking part, but believed there would be a good showing from the Pacific Palms' community.
He also saw little sense in the project.
"From what I can gather there's not a lot of benefit for Australia," Mr Moltzen said.
"There might be a few jobs but it's a Norwegian company so most of the money will go back there."
He also thought the risks associated with the project far outweighed the benefits.
"It's such a pristine area and too much could go wrong."
We're hoping a lot of kids can paddle out. Them being the future they're more at risk.Mick Moltzen
Both men encouraged as many people as possible to come down and show their support for the movement.
"We're all directly affected in some way," Mr Banks said.
"We have to make our message loud and clear."
Equinor plan to start drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight by the end of 2020, but need the approval of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) to begin.
Opposition to the proposal has been growing in the past 18 months in both Australia and Norway, with much of the resistance based around the fact the company wants to drill at extreme depths in the highest energy ocean in the world.
Opponents to the project believe these factors significantly increase the risks of a spill or leakage, which would have devastating impacts for a pristine marine environment that contains a number of threatened species and supports numerous industries.
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