Broome, Western Australia - August 6, 2012 - Former Australian Greens Leader, Bob Brown, Sea Shepherd Australia Director, Jeff Hansen and Federal Member for Fremantle, Melissa Parke gathered with people from the local community, including members of the Goolarabooloo family, to welcome the Steve Irwin as it makes its way into the port of Broome.
Mr. Brown is in Broome to head up the Sea Shepherd's operation, Kimberley Miinimbi, at the invitation of the Goolarabooloo people, to highlight the significance of the James Price Point marine environment as a habitat and feeding ground for humpback whales, dolphins and turtles.
Mr. Brown said today, "We need to protect the world's biggest humpback whale nursery. You would not put a gas processing plant in a human nursery, so why would you do it to our whales?
"I am certain that when the people of Australia see these images on their televisions, they will want to do everything they can to ensure that the gas factory does not go ahead," concluded Mr. Brown.
A gas processing plant onshore at James Prices Point would severely disrupt this rich diversity of marine life with the industrial infrastructure required for the port. Extensive dredging to create a port and shipping channel for LNG tanker traffic would create a marine 'dead zone' at James Price Point, and the development would increase the risk of whale mortality by ship strikes with all the ship movements in and out of the gas factory.
Jeff Hansen, Director of the Sea Shepherd Australia said today, "The Sea Shepherd has a proud history of protecting whales in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary. We're eager to support the campaign against the gas processing plant at James Price Point as an important part of the whale habitat that stretches right along this part of the Dampier Peninsula."
"While visiting the community science whale survey just south of James Price Point, yesterday, I learned that in just 4 hours a day, this survey has sighted over 1000 whales, including 80 mother and calf pairs over the six week survey to date. On our visit, we see saw several whales playing off the coast," concluded Mr. Hansen.
Bob Brown, Jeff Hansen and Melissa Parke later met with senior Jabbir Jabbir people at Waardi Ltd to listen to the views of some of the Traditional Owners who voted 'yes' to the gas proposal.
Bob Brown said the Kimberley's Traditional Owners should benefit from the gas wherever it was brought ashore, not just if the precinct was built at James Price Point.
Ms Parke said the argument that the $40 billion project, with all its environmental impacts, is justified on the grounds that it will bring major economic benefits for Aboriginal people is flawed because "hospitals and schools are a right for all Australians."
The Sea Shepherd will conduct daily whale watching surveys at James Price Point, with a number of guests joining the crew each day, including whale conservationists Annabelle Sandes and Richard Costin.
Richard Costin and Annabelle Sandes are Broome-based naturalists and photographers who have spent the past six years on the Kimberley coast studying the Breeding Stock D population of Humpback Whales, the largest Humpback Whale population in the world. For more photos of the Kimberley region, click here.