World’s largest Humpback Whale Nursery is safe

The so called unremarkable Kimberly CoastThe so called unremarkable Kimberly Coast
photo: Sea Shepherd Australia/Eliza Muirhead
Off the back of Sea Shepherd's most successful whale defence campaign to date comes welcoming news for the west coast humpback population, en route back from Antarctica to their home off the Kimberley coast.

Its official; the news that their nursery, the world’s largest humpback whale nursery, the whales home, will not have the world’s largest gas hub ploughed right through the middle of it.

There is harmonious sigh of relief and joy as the humpbacks make tracks from their summer feeding grounds to their winter calving grounds off the Kimberley coast.

The whales' nursery and home is now safe due to the fact that energy giant Woodside Petroleum has scrapped plans for its controversial $45 billion Browse joint-venture at James Price Point near Broome.

The Woodside-led consortium announced the decision to the Australian Stock Exchange this morning.

The Woodside joint-venture, which was due to announce a decision before June, informed the State and Federal governments that the Browse partners had decided against proceeding with the onshore hub at James Price Point, which has attracted fierce opposition from environmentalists and many locals.

Contractors doing preliminary work at the site have been told to demobilise and that no further progress payments will be made.

The project can be relocated by means of Shells floating LNG technology or piping the gas to the Pilbera, however the whales and their nursery cannot.

Here shows a classic example of a win/win for all parties involved.

A win for the Goolarabooloo people and the people of Broome and the Kimberley

A win for the world’s largest Humpback whale nursery

A win for the world’s largest stretch of Dinosaur coast in the world, worthy of world heritage listing

A win for the endangered billby that would have had habitat loss.

A win for the local sea turtle and dugong populations that would have lost critical sea grass food habitat with the massive dredging

A win for the joint-venture partners and shareholders, between 2 to 15 billion dollars greater benefit to move the project

This is a tremendous victory for everyone that stood to lose so much if this project went ahead in one of the last great wilderness areas left on the planet. Sea Shepherd would like to thank all of our supporters that have made this victory for the whales possible. Thanks to Geoffrey cousins for the credibility he lent to this campaign in representing the business community.

Sea Shepherd would also like to pay respect to all those other groups that have worked on this campaign for many years like Environs Kimberley, Save the Kimberley and the Wilderness Society.

Sea Shepherd would also like to pay our acknowledgement to musicians Xavier Rudd, John Butler and Missy Higgins for their constant support in opposition of this project.

We would like to thank Labor Federal Member for Fremantle, Melissa Parke and Greens Senators Christine Milne and Rachel Siewert for standing up for the Kimberley.

Sea Shepherd knows that this campaign would not have been possible without one of the world’s greatest environmentalist of our time. A very heartfelt thank you must go to our fearless campaign leader Bob Brown and his partner Paul.

"The intervention of the Sea Shepherd was an important factor in the success of this campaign – one of the biggest and most successful environmental campaigns in the nation’s history. The visit of the Steve Irwin to the site was critical in drawing attention to the vast impact this project would have had on the marine environment, and of course on one of the world’s largest humpback whale nurseries. But not only that. A chill runs up the spine of corporations when such an organisation throws its weight into the ring. It is the cumulative impact of all these different pressures involving thousands of people that wins the day on issues such as this. Thanks Sea Shepherd for travelling so far to help and then staying with us all the way, " said Geoffrey Cousins, prominent businessman and activist.

"Personally, it was a great honour for me to serve on this campaign with Bob Brown and to be invited to Walmadan country by the Goolarabooloo people to see if we could help them in their fight to protect their land and sea country. On my first day I witnessed mothers and calves nursing less than one kilometre off the former proposed site. In a place with stunning turquoise water, vibrant red cliffs, a rich and ancient culture going back tens of thousands of years and dinosaur footprints dating back over 230 million years, I could not comprehend what Woodside and the state government was contemplating, " said Australian Director, Jeff Hansen.

"My feeling was that I would challenge anyone to come to the Kimberley and not be affected immensely by its raw beauty and not want to stand alongside the Goolarabooloo in defence of one of the last wilderness areas left on the planet. Now, I encourage anyone to go and see the Kimberley for yourself, to meet the wonderful folk of Broome, the Goolarabooloo and one of Earth's precious gifts, that is, the Kimberley. I know I cannot wait to go back," said Jeff Hansen.

Jeff Hansen went onto say, "On announcing Operation Kimberley Miinimbi, many people believed that there was no hope in stopping this project. That it was a David and Goliath struggle and we could not win this. This victory shows that no matter what the odds, no matter what the risks, no matter how well equipped, funded and government backed your opponents are, you must never give in, must never surrender, you must fight for what is right, because the one thing that is worth fighting for on our beautiful planet, is life."

Campaign Leader Bob Brown had this to say, "It is now essential that the 1.3 billion dollar payment to the traditional owners from exploiting the browse basin gas be guaranteed even though the processing is likely to occur 400km off the coast. This is great news, Sea Shepherd and I are calling for World Heritage assessment in conjunction with traditional owners of the Kimberley region".

We will leave the final words to Sea Shepherd founder, Captain Paul Watson in his acceptance letter in response to the invitation from the Goolarabooloo senior law bosses he wrote:

"Thank you for your invitation that we accept in the spirit of eternal friendship with a promise to stand in unity with the Goolarabooloo to defend the beauty and sacredness of this wondrous environment. For our oceans and for life," said Captain Paul Watson.

MY Steve Irwin near the Kimberley Coast and the Whale NurseryMY Steve Irwin near the Kimberley Coast and the Whale Nursery
photo: Sea Shepherd Australia/Eliza Muirhead

Jeff Hansen, Bob Brown and Lorna CoxSea Shepherd Australia director Jeff Hansen and campaign leader Bob Brown
meet Lorna Cox, a Nyul Nyul/Jabirr Jabirr woman. Photo: Sea Shepherd Australia/Bronte Turner

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