Offshore Stakeholder Consultation – Environment Plans and NOPSEMA Update for Commercial Fishers

On 25 April 2019, amendments to the offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas storage environment regulations will come into effect. After that date, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) will be required to publish on its website a copy of full environment plans (EPs) submitted to NOPSEMA by oil and gas titleholders.

All seismic or exploratory drilling EPs will be published on submission (commencing a 30 day public comment period), and on acceptance by NOPSEMA.

This is excellent news for the commercial fishing industry, we will have a final opportunity to review all EPs that have been submitted to NOPSEMA.  We will be able to check the commercial fishing section of the EP to ensure fisher feedback and concerns have been appropriately acknowledged and addressed; and if not; we will be able to provide additional comment for EP inclusion and review.

In line with the revised regulations, the following is a list of what will not be included in the EP that is published online:

  • Copies of full correspondence (ie emails, letters).
  • Transcripts of consultation conducted (eg meeting minutes, call logs, etc).
  • Any information that has been identified by a commercial fisher as inappropriate to publish.
  • Personal information (ie individual names, email addresses, postal addresses, telephone numbers, any other contact details etc).

If you have provided feedback relevant to an EP but consider this information confidential, inappropriate for public release etc, please ensure this is 100% clear with the proponent to ensure there is no public disclosure of any of your shared commercial fishing and other information which you do not want to become available on the public record (ie should not be included in the published submitted EP or the final accepted EP).

Please note, your feedback is still very valid and very important; it will still be included in the EP submission to NOPSEMA, confidential information will be removed prior to the public release of the EP.

Please do not ignore any oil and gas activities which will affect you because you have concerns that confidential information shared may end up in the public domain. Without frank feedback provided by commercial fishers we will end up with an activity which will potentially impact both your commercial fishing activities and the commercial fishing resource – we need to be an active part of the solution moving forward. It is therefore vital that this (sometimes confidential) information is shared with a proponent to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your fishery is delivered via the EP.

The public comment process will be managed on the NOPSEMA website https://www.nopsema.gov.au/

To access a copy of regulatory changes, visit https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2019L00370.

Further information on the offshore petroleum regulatory regime can be found at the Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation and Science website:

https://www.industry.gov.au/regulation-and-standards/regulating-offshore-oil-and-gas-in-australian-waters.

For further information regarding oil and gas, please contact WAFIC’s Executive Officer for Oil and Gas, Mannie Shea, via oilandgas@wafic.org.au