What the fudge is an S.P.A? We answer 5 questions about why we need to abolish them!

What’s going on here?

Right now, there are companies called TGS and Schlumberger who want to seismic blast the ocean looking for dirty fossil fuels oil and gas. The problem is, it’s a destructive process and has the potential to cause irreparable damages to the beautiful marine ecosystems, whale songlines and not to mention the tourism and fishing industries on the coastlines of Victoria, SA and Tasmania. Plus, do we really need more fossil fuels in a global climate crisis? This seismic blasting project is the largest in the world! 

The reason they are allowed to apply to do this in the first place comes down to a new process called a Special Prospecting Authority (also called a SPA), which is granted by the Federal Government. Right now, Fossil fuel companies TGS and Schlumberger are planning to use these permits to blast these pristine oceans all in the search for fossil fuels.

What is a Special Prospecting Authority (SPA)?

A Special Prospecting Authority (SPA) is a specific type of permit that allows companies to buy access to large areas of our oceans to use seismic blasting in the search for oil and gas below the seafloor. It’s new, and this is the first project for approval under this new system.

Why is this so bad for our oceans?

Special Prospecting Authorities (SPAs) give companies a quick and cheap way of bypassing the usual (long) process to buy up vast areas of ocean that are not currently being exploited - another words, more ocean can be blasted for oil and gas at a much faster rate all because of SPA’s!

It’s especially bad because SPA’s don’t consider what other blasting plans may have been approved - meaning that there can be multiple seismic blasting projects in the same area which would have a devastating impact on ocean ecosystems and marine life like whales who feed here. 

Special Prospecting Authority permits allow exploration companies to conduct seismic blasting in habitats of endangered species such as blue whales and in marine parks and other critical ocean habitats. There are currently two SPA application processes underway in the Otway basin between Victoria and Tasmania. 

Why is it so important for our oceans that SPA’s are abolished?

One of these applications by TGS/SLB-Schlumberger is the largest-ever 3D seismic blasting proposal on record globally. At over 4.5 m hectares, it covers blue whale feeding grounds, two marine parks, upwelling plankton feeding hotspots, and some of the most biodiverse areas of the Great Southern Reef! This shows just how dangerous SPA’s for the health of our oceans - if the first ever permit application is the largest in history, it gives a good reason to be worried about what else could happen unless SPA’s are abolished asap! 

What needs to happen then?

The Minister for Resources Madeleine King has the power to stop these, and protect these pristine areas of ocean from the destructive impacts of oil & gas exploration. This would be a huge win for our planet as by stopping SPA’s, we can help protect Australia’s oceans and marine life and turn the tide on the harm caused from seismic blasting.

What can I do right now?

We’re glad you asked. There’s two easy letters you can send that would make a huge difference - they are all prepped ready to go, you just need to write in your name and click send! 

  • Send a letter asking for SPA’s to be abolished to Resources Minister Madeleine King via this online letter writing tool (hosted by Australian Marine Conservation Society)
  • Take action by sending your letter to your political leader asking them to Save the Southern Sea here