o building a massive LNG plant in flatback sea turtle territory on the northwest coast of Australia will cause no harm to wildlife? That’s what Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett says confidently in this 60 Minutes report from Down Under. He makes this proclamation even as the reporter investigating efforts to protect the Kimberly is greeted by sea turtles, crocodiles and big groupers when touring the threatened region. Perhaps he is following the Bush approach – it’s true if he says it is so.
I visited the Kimberly more than 20 years ago and never forgot the red of the Bungle Bungles, the rusty rivers, the saltwater crocs. Eco-tourism and adventure trips have taken hold in Broome where pearling and fishing still hang on. Sadly, the aboriginal people are mostly living in third-world conditions like so many do in their own country. And now it’s an LNG plant that will save the day.
Recently, I toured the Pilbara region to the south to get an eyewitness view of where LNG plants, mining ports, salt mines and industrial facilities have already taken over the coast. The small towns are dustry and neglected,the larger ones seem pleasant enough until you spot the gas flares and mining ports. A metallic tasted formed in my mouth in one iron-ore town and never left until I did.
Yet sea turtles still seem to manage to nest and forage along this industrialized coast. But spreading this same industry into the relatively untouched Kimberly is too much for a decade or two of natural gas. It’s a vision that will end an ancient legacy of which the flatback sea turtle is part.
Sea Turtle Restoration Project and its parent Turtle Island Restoration Network are joining forces with Australian groups to call for a moratorium on development in the Kimberly until a full conservation strategy is in place and sea turtle protection is assured. See our comments.
Now is the time to Put Your Hand Up for the Kimberly on this interactive petition and map from the Wilderness Society of Western Australia.