Ocean-loving protesters have linked hands across the nation’s beaches in a bid to protect the Great Australian Bight from oil and gas drilling.
Hundreds lined the sands at more than a dozen beaches in five states for Hands Across the Sands events on Saturday, including at Melbourne’s St Kilda, Adelaide’s Glenelg and Fremantle’s Bathers Beach.
They called on the Liberal and Labor parties to protect the southern waters and wildlife from the risks of oil and gas exploration.
Former Australian Greens leader Bob Brown spoke at the Adelaide event, saying a major oil spill in the Bight would be environmentally devastating.
“The Bight is one of the most intact natural ecosystems left on earth,” Dr Brown said.
“Such a spill here would wreck the South Australian, Victorian and Tasmanian coastlines, including the Tarkine.”
Wilderness Society’s SA director Peter Owen said Australia’s major parties must join the Greens and Senator Nick Xenophon in saying no to drilling.
“Both major parties seem more interested in imaginary oil and gas industry jobs than the 10,000 real fishing and tourism jobs in South Australia’s coastal regions that would be threatened by an oil spill,” he said.
Hands Across the Sand started in the US after energy giant BP spilled about 800 million litres of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 days, killing millions of fish and an estimated 75,000 dolphins and whales.
The Bight is home to sea lions, migratory birds, sharks, dolphins, giant cuttlefish and dozens of whale species, including an important southern right whale nursery.