SEISMIC testing off the coast of Newcastle will begin on Sunday after a nearly week-long delay due to an inability for the required vessel to travel to the region, the company behind the controversial survey has said.
The Greens have slammed the timing of the survey, saying it coincides with the start of the school holidays when more recreational fishers will be on the water.
Asset Energy has confirmed that the vessel needed to commence the testing had begun its trip to Newcastle from Queensland, where it had been stranded due to tropical cyclone Iris.
“The company is pleased to advise shareholders that the vessel contracted to undertake the survey which had been impacted by Tropical Cyclone Iris, has now commenced transit to Newcastle,” Goh Hock, chairman of Asset Energy’s parent company MEC Resources, said.
“The survey is now anticipated to commence on April 15, pending weather.”
The testing, which was opposed by the state government but approved by the federal regulator, had been due to start on April 9, but was delayed after the cyclone prevented the vessel’s safe journey down the east coast.
The Greens, who have long argued the 2D seismic survey, which involves shooting acoustic pulses into the ocean floor in search of gas deposits, could have negative impacts on wildlife in the area.
“It is disappointing that Asset Energy has not listened to the concerns of the local community, fishers, tourism operators and the NSW government and pushed ahead with the proposed start of seismic testing off the coast of Newcastle from this Sunday,” Greens MLC Justin Field said.
“This weekend marks the start of school holidays when more recreational fishers will be on the water and at a time when commercial fishers are trying to supply fresh seafood to local tourists.
“It’s the wrong time to be proceeding with the testing and the company was warned against testing at this time.”
His comments follow a rally where about 100 protesters chanted “whales not gas”, calling for the planned survey to be aborted during a march along Newcastle Foreshore on Sunday.
“The reality is the community will not accept an oil or gas field in the waters off the Newcastle coast,” Mr Field said on Tuesday.
“There will be peaceful action against the seismic testing beginning on Sunday, and this will ramp up significantly to protect our environment and community against any chance of further exploration or the disaster of offshore production.”
Asset Energy maintains its practices are environmentally safe.
Mr Hock said the survey would take place over three to four days, “at a location predominantly 30 kilometres southeast of Newcastle”.
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