Victorian National Parks Association submission to the Southern Ocean Region Offshore Renewable Energy Zone
- It is disappointing to see this renewable energy zone proposed in such an ecologically rich and important area like the Bonney Upwelling. There are critical marine life hotspots within the Southern Ocean Zone that should be avoided.
- Threatened species such as the Pygmy blue and Souther-right whales rely on this area for their survival being one of the most important areas in Australia. The area overlaps with important foraging areas for the Pygmy Blue Whale and significant area for Southern Right Whales.
- Development in this area goes against policy and law in place to protect threatened wildlife like the EPBC Act and other policies to protect whales.
- Marine biodiversity values should indicate where to locate and avoid developments.
- If impacts on marine life and habitats are to be avoided and minimised, early planning is required.
- There has been no communication of the rationale or the decision-making process that resulted in the proposed area, nor was there any identification of marine biodiversity values, apart from marine parks.
- Before declaration there should be an attempt to undertake preliminary marine planning for this zone to identify environmentally and culturally sensitive areas where developers should avoid, and less sensitive areas prioritised to protect high value conservation areas.
- Preliminary marine planning could feed into a more thorough marine spatial planning process.
- Marine spatial planning is a tool that can be used to avoid important environmental, cultural and social values while giving the industry direction and security.
Submitted: August 2023