One state is bucking a push for more wind farms in Australia due to fears the gigantic renewable energy generators could damage vulnerable ocean wildlife and put hundreds of fishermen out of work.
South Australia has officially notified the federal government it does not support a proposed Southern Ocean offshore wind farm zone stretching from Warrnambool in Victoria to Port MacDonnell in the state’s southeast Limestone Coast region.
Primary Industries Minister Clare Scriven said the construction of massive turbines could damage the state’s $187.5m rock lobster industry, which generates more than 1000 full time jobs in the area.
“The south east is world-renowned for its clean, green and sustainable produce and the seafood sectors operating off the coast of Port MacDonnell are proudly committed to enhancing and protecting this reputation,” she said.
“The sector needs certainty going forward that some of its most productive fishing grounds will not be impacted by a project that, while impacting on South Australia, will deliver energy to Victoria.”
Along with lobsters, the zone is home to other South Australian fisheries including abalone, marine scalefish and bluefin tuna.
South Australian Rock Lobster Advisory Council executive officer Nathan Kimber praised the state government’s move and called on Energy Minister Chris Bowen to exclude any waters that overlap with his industry’s fishery boundaries.
Deputy Premier and Climate Minister Susan Close also said the proposal threatened South Australia’s diverse marine ecosystem, including pygmy blue whale, southern right whale, white shark, Australasian gannet, wedge-tailed shearwater and several species of albatross.
“The South Australian Government is committed to renewable energy projects that improve our state’s energy security, but we cannot support ones that have the potential to cause significant harm to local industries and the environment,” she said.
“This is particularly the case when they have no net benefit to South Australians.
“The zone’s proximity to our marine parks and the Bonney upwelling is also of significant concern given the rich biodiversity in the region.”
The submission asks the federal government to reduce the size of the proposed area to stop at the South Australian border.