The State Government has recommended South Australia not be included in the Commonwealth’s proposed offshore wind farm zone that runs from Warrnambool in Victoria to Port MacDonnell.
In its submission to the Commonwealth, the State Government has expressed concerns about the potential impact construction of an offshore windfarm in that area could have on South Australia’s southern fisheries and marine environment.
The news has been welcomed by the $187.5 million rock lobster industry which contributes 1068 full time equivalent jobs to the local economy.
The area is also home to other important fisheries including abalone, marine scalefish, bluefin tuna, as well as recreational fisheries, and is in close proximity to the state’s marine park sanctuary zones.
The energy generated within the zone would also be connected exclusively to the Victorian power grid.
Commercial fishers have raised concerns about biomass, juvenile recruitment and settlement, the impact of noise, vibration and loss of habitat, electromagnetic fields, all of which may impact on future catches.
Importantly, the proposed ‘declared area’ directly overlaps with an area that is recognised for its biological and oceanographic significance at a national and international level, with the area well known for the Bonney Coast upwelling.
Further concerns are held for the proposal’s impact on biodiversity, ecosystems, and impact on a wide range of wildlife, including pygmy blue whale, southern right whale, white shark, Australasian gannet, wedge-tailed shearwater and several species of albatross.
The State Government submission recommends the Commonwealth moves or reduces the size of the proposed area to remove any waters adjacent to the South Australia coast.
“The South Australian Government is committed to renewable energy projects that improve our state’s energy security, but we cannot support ones that have the potential to cause significant harm to local industries and the environment.
This is particularly the case when they have no net benefit to South Australians.
The zones proximity to our marine parks and the Bonney upwelling is also of significant concern given the rich biodiversity in the region.”
“The South East is world renowned for its clean, green and sustainable produce, and the seafood sectors operating off the coast of Port MacDonnell are proudly committed to enhancing and protecting this reputation.
The sector contributes more than 1000 full time equivalent jobs, making it crucial to regional employment and especially the local economy in the South East.
The State Government has stood with the Rock Lobster Industry since coming to government, particularly in the wake of difficult times with COVID and trade tensions with China.
The sector needs certainty going forward that some of its most productive fishing grounds will not be impacted by a project that, while impacting on South Australia, will deliver energy to Victoria.”
“We congratulate and thank the government for its strong show of support for South Australia’s most valuable seafood resource, the Southern Rock Lobster fishery, which has been generating economic and social outcomes for our state year on year for 80 years.
It continues the support that the state government has provided to us over the past three years as we have navigated the fall out from Covid and various trade disruptions.
Having an offshore energy zone declared off South Australia’s Port MacDonnell in an area critical to our fishery will only add to the uncertainties and stress that the industry and Limestone Coast communities have experienced over this period.
We now hope that Minister Bowen will listen to the submissions made by the South Australian Government and our industry and amend the proposed Southern Ocean offshore energy zone to exclude any waters that overlap with our fishery boundaries.”