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Burke must protect Kangaroo Island blue whale feeding grounds

Australian Greens Marine spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert says allowing oil and gas exploration off the coast of South Australia's Kangaroo Island would contradict other Government environmental programs and put endangered animals at risk.

Environment Minister Tony Burke is expected to announce his decision on a proposal to commence seismic testing at the Kangaroo Island Canyon and Pools this week. Bight Petroleum intends to undertake seismic tests in the coming months and start drilling in 2014.

"Minister Burke has announced a range of measures to protect endangered blue whales off the coast of Antarctica and other parts of Australia. He now has the opportunity to protect the same whales in their feeding grounds in South Australian waters," Senator Siewert said.

"The waters off Kangaroo Island are one of only three known feeding areas in Australia for endangered blue whales and are also a critical breeding and feeding area for many other threatened, endangered and protected species.

"Scientific evidence shows seismic testing is extremely dangerous to many marine mammals, causing stress, hearing damage and even death.

"Last week Minister Burke announced further research to benefit blue whales, this week we hope he will protect them locally by declaring the unique marine environment around Kangaroo Island is too precious to lose and rejecting oil and gas exploration in this area."

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