WAFIC Secures 3-year National Seismic Coordination Role

The Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) has secured funding from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) for a three-year national seismic research coordination role. With more than 20 years of experience in the commercial fishing sector, most recently as an external affairs advisor for Chevron, WAFIC Executive Officer (Resource Access) Marilyn (Mannie) Shea has been appointed as the principal investigator for this project.

“Our industry is under intense pressure from the oil and gas sector (seismic surveys, exploration, deployment of gear and now decommissioning of gear), jeopardising commercial fishing access rights, commercial fishing sustainability and potential resource impacts (such as the Bass Strait scallop mortalities) on the marine environment of many fisheries,” said Mannie.

“Both industries “share the ocean” and, since the inception of NOPSEMA (the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environment Management Authority) in 2012, the Authority has mandated consultation requirements for every NOPSEMA environment plan, placing ongoing pressure on commercial fishers and overall stakeholder fatigue. Lack of transparency and poor consultation has exacerbated fisher frustration.”

“Marine seismic surveys – the range, the size and the scope – have been a considerable and ongoing impost on the commercial fishing sector, the coordination of information and resources around seismic activities and identifying research which recognises impacts on our fisheries and especially, identifying research gaps so these projects can be prioritised in the near future,” she said.

Mannie expressed the three-year position will provide ongoing support to protect commercial fishermen’s access rights.

“This position will identify areas of seismic and commercial fishing/ commercial fishing environment gaps with the aim for these research gaps to be addressed.”

“Environment plan submissions, consistent processes for environment plan consultations and best practice information for environment plans will also be part of this project’s remit.”

“Most importantly, the published seismic research information collated from this project will be made publicly accessible, housed in a “one-stop-shop” open-access site. This will mean oil and gas proponents, eNGOs and students etcetera will be able to readily access key, Australian-specific oil and gas / commercial fishing / marine environment research and use this in their respective roles,” she said.

Image: Mannie Shea (left) in Adelaide recently for the annual APPEA (Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association) conference along with Kirsten Rough from the Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association representing Australian commercial fishing on an industry stand.

Concluding Mannie said that both industries are significant players in the state and national economies and there are areas where synergies can be achieved, and initiatives implemented for mutual benefit.

For more information about this project email Mannie via: [email protected].