World Heritage bid for the Bight

World Heritage bid for the Bight

Local candidate for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has joined community leaders in her electorate in calling for World Heritage listing of the Great Australian Bight to prevent oil drilling in this significant environment.

Local candidate for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie with Kangaroo Island Mayor Peter Clements, left, and Victor Harbor Mayor Graham Philp at the launch of a campaign to protect the Great Australian Bight with World Heritage listing.

Today she stood beside council leaders and a representative from the Australian Institute to announce a joint campaign to bid for Commonwealth Heritage Listing for the Bight as the first step towards World Heritage listing.

The campaign coincides with the release of an Australian Institute poll showing nearly 74 per cent of residents in Mayo support World Heritage protection of the Bight.

The Institute is an independent research think tank which examines a range of economic and environmental issues in order to inform public policy debate.

The poll revealed majority support for the listing across the political spectrum.

“This is not about the left or right of politics, this about protecting a pristine environment of high biodiversity, as well as our economy,” Rebekha said.

“Imagine what would happen to the economies of our coastal communities if there was a major oil spill?

“The fishing industry, the tourism industry - every fish and chip shop, every bed and breakfast would be affected.”

Kangaroo Island Mayor Peter Clements was at the campaign launch and said the Australia Institute poll results came as no surprise.

“I have been campaigning for the protection of the Bight for the past eight years,” Peter said.

“The institute poll just confirms the attitude of people generally along the coastline of South Australia.

“Eight coastal councils, representing the majority of the communities in the pathway of any potential oil spill in the Bight, have resolved to reject any industrialisation of the Great Australian Bight.”

Institute Executive Director Ben Oquist said the poll was conducted to ascertain whether the wider community was aware of the economic and environmental threats posed by drilling in the Bight.

“What our results have shown is that people value protecting the Bight, so much so that they want World Heritage Protection for this marine environment,” Ben said.

“Our research shows that the claimed economic benefits of oil and gas drilling in the Bight are exaggerated while the risk to the environment and the local economy is substantial.

“There are over 9000 jobs in tourism, fishing and agriculture industries on the South Australian coast that are directly at risk if there was a major oil spill.”