Despite the dark, grey ominous sky that hung low over the ocean, our Gold Coast community came out in full force on Sunday morning for the Fight for the Bight Paddle Out at Burleigh Beach. This event was organised to peacefully protest against the ridiculous idea of allowing Norwegian company, Equinor, to conduct exploratory deep sea drilling for oil in our Great Australian Bight and to show solidarity with our fellow Australians from all around the Southern and Eastern Coastlines that we will not stand for this type of ill-informed, primarily economic-focused decision making by our Government.
This event, organised by Patagonia and Surfrider Foundation, came at a crucial time in Equinor’s application process. They have submitted their environmental plan, in which they were required to include oil spill modelling, showing the devastating effect on marine ecology and coastal communities all the way from Margaret River in WA to as far up the eastern coastline as Port Macquarie on the North Coast of NSW. Equinor claim that this drilling they are proposing 327km out in the Southern Ocean “can be done safely”. To do this they will need to navigate some of the most treacherous waters that surround this country in a depth of 2500 metres of water and then drill through a further 3000m of seabed to locate any possible oil. The reliability of where they are getting their claims from is flawed, as they originate from BP, who were responsible for the Deepwater Horizon spill off the Gulf of Mexico only 9 years ago. The effects of this spill were catastrophic, and are still being felt today, as the ecosystem attempts to reestablish its self. We DO NOT want this for our Bight!
As we arrived on Sunday morning we could already see a large group of craft riders out on the ocean in a messy, circular formation of hundreds. On the beach there were even more people listening to key speakers, ready to get in the water or to hold signs on the beach. The air was thick with the positive energy of those present, coming from all walks of life and from across the generations, who wanted to have their voices heard. People were sharing stories, introducing themselves to other like-minded individuals and groups that they had never met before, and the activism was palpable. The surge of wave riders heading out into the ocean to expand the ever growing circle of protesters was felt by those left on the beach . Their message was clear and conveyed with passion: keep your grubby hands off the Great Australian Bight!
To create our signs and placards, we designed a T-shirt to convey our message and we got such a massive response to them that we decided to put them up for sale. 100% of the profits made from the sale of this t-shirt will be donated to Great Australian Bight Alliance #fightforthebight
A big shout out to all the people who gave up their Sunday morning to join in and make this a huge show of dissatisfaction with the proposal of ruining another precious ocean ecosystem to unearth more fossil fuels. If you have been thinking of supporting this cause, now is the ideal time. Purchase one of our-t-shirts and we will ensure the money gets to the heart of the cause.
Words and images by Alana Carlson, Sudden Glimpse Photography