Multiple Users: Can Fishing & Oil Drilling (and even Deep-sea Mining) co-exist?

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A story in Atuna (12 April 2013) announces a study into the Great Australian Bight, and the interactions of multiple users and their effects one each other; in particular the effects of drilling on fishstocks.

This couldn’t be anymore timely. Globally this issue of multiple use has emerged as technology has developed and other users such as oil drillers  have begun to prospect marine areas that have been the domain of fisheries…

This is a real issue in New Zealand where there has been prospecting for oil, and and even deep sea phosphate mining occurring within or adjacent to productive fishing grounds.

In Australia Oil reserves coincide with southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) grounds…

Ac cording to Atuna:

The Australian southern bluefin tuna industry has welcomed new research into the Great Australian Bight [where] an AUS$ 20 million whole of ecosystem study has been announced that will look at the economic, environmental and social value of the Bight.

Oil giant BP is funding some of the research. 

Map of Australia, showing the Great Australian Bight. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Australian_Bight

Map of Australia, showing the Great Australian Bight.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Australian_Bight

The tuna industry has had concerns in the past about the company’s exploration for oil and gas in the area; but Brian Jeffriess, from the tuna industry, says this research is welcome.

Unless you understand the ecosystem, understand how each of the users of that ecosystem whether they be new ones like BP or older ones like ourselves, we need to be responsible and need to recognize that we each have mutual obligations to us and the South Australian community.”

So what is Down There and how does it coincide with Bluefin Tuna?

A GeoScience Australia press release (05 April 2010) Geoscience Australia identified three new deep water hydrocarbon provinces announces:

Three significant new oil and gas regions have been identified off Australia’s coast, raising the potential for a wave of offshore exploration that could create booming new resources hubs around the nation. A combination of new technology and the high price of oil has prompted the commonwealth’s Geoscience Australia survey body to push technical limits and explore frontier areas in deep water, turning up startling new resource potential.

Geoscience Australia has identified the Bight basin as a new deepwater hydrocarbon province.
http://www.energy-pedia.com/news/australia/geoscience-australia-identifies-three-new-deep-water-hydrocarbon-provinces

One of the regions, the South Australian end of the Great Australian Bight, has been opened for exploration and has already attracted strong bids ahead of the April 29 deadline. But extracting any oil and gas from this area will mean overcoming significant challenges, including heavy seas and wells deeper than any in operation around the nation.

In addition to the Bight, Geoscience Australia has uncovered strong indications of petroleum in basins near the Lord Howe Rise, 800km east of Brisbane, and on the Wallaby Plateau, 500km off the West Australian coast and next to the existing North West Shelf gas zone.

Which could be good news for the Australian Economy… But what of existing use… Bluefin Tuna is good for the Australian Economy too!!

According to the Australian Government these two resources spatially coincide:

Southern bluefin tuna spawning ground and migration pattern within and out of Australian waters. The 200-mile Australian fishing zone is indicated by the solid line and the horizontal hatching indicates the composite distribution of the Australian surface fishery. The general distribution of Japanese longline fishing is inset. (Modified from Majkowski et al., 1988). http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/t1817e/T1817E17.htm

Southern bluefin tuna spawning ground and migration pattern within and out of Australian waters. The 200-mile Australian fishing zone is indicated by the solid line and the horizontal hatching indicates the composite distribution of the Australian surface fishery. (Modified from Majkowski et al., 1988).
http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/t1817e/T1817E17.htm

According to the Australian Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Poulation and Communities:

[The] Adult Southern Bluefin Tuna in Australian waters, ranges widely from northern Western Australia (WA) to the southern region of the continent, including Tasmania, and to northern New South Wales, appearing in eastern Australian waters mainly during winter (Caton 1991; CCSBT 2009; Honda et al. 2010; NSW DPI FSC n.d.). Juveniles of one to two years of age inhabit inshore waters in WA and South Australia (Honda et al. 2010).

The Southern Bluefin Tuna is highly migratory, occurring globally in waters between 30–50° S, though the species is mainly found in the eastern Indian Ocean and in the south-west Pacific Ocean. There is a single known spawning ground between Java and northern WA (TSSC 2010aw).

Given What is happening in New Zealand with Chatham Rise Phosphate… I am going to keep up with how the Aussies deal with this overlap!

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5 thoughts on “Multiple Users: Can Fishing & Oil Drilling (and even Deep-sea Mining) co-exist?

  1. Pingback: Seabed Mining: What Will The Effect Of Phosphate Mining Be On Tuna Health? | Green Fish Blue Fish

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