Woodside ‘war on whales’ sparks calls for transparency after calf hit by boat
PERTH, 23 August 2023 – Greenpeace Australia Pacific is calling for transparency from fossil fuel giant Woodside, after it was revealed a whale calf was hit by a tugboat operated by a Woodside contractor in the Port of Dampier.
The collision, confirmed by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), went unreported until a local reporter made inquiries.
In the statement, the DBCA said a whale calf had been struck by a Riverwijs tugboat, contracted by Woodside, on Thursday 10 August.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific senior campaigner Sophie McNeill said Woodside’s lack of transparency was an insult to Western Australians, and is calling for Woodside to come clean about its dangerous operations.
“Woodside has known about this collision for more than a week, and it is yet to take ownership or make the incident public. It’s an insult to all Western Australians who love our ocean and marine life,” she said.
“Vessel strike is a serious danger to whales and other marine life. Woodside’s contractors clearly haven’t taken the care they should have during peak humpback whale migration season – and a whale calf has suffered the consequences of their apparent negligence.”
“This incident makes it look like safety of marine wildlife sits at the bottom of Woodside’s priority list. How many other whales have been hit that we don’t know about? If Woodside can’t manage a tugboat without striking calves, can it really be trusted to undertake massive fossil fuel development amidst our precious oceans and wildlife?”
“Greenpeace is calling for Woodside to own up to the whale strike and explain why there is no transparency or accountability around the incident.”
McNeill said the incident is indicative of Woodside’s history of environmental scandals and said the company can’t be trusted with Western Australia’s oceans or wildlife.
“In Greenpeace’s view, Woodside’s developments of Western Australia represent a war on whales. Not only are they smashing into baby whales, they’re about to start seismic blasting in endangered pygmy blue whale habitat off the Pilbara coast. Woodside has also just started dredging in endangered turtle habitat in the Dampier Archipelago. It would appear that Woodside is focused on its profits and its dirty, climate-wrecking Burrup Hub project, not our vulnerable wildlife or oceans,” she said.
“Woodside cannot be trusted with seismic blasting, and it cannot be trusted with our precious marine life.”
It comes as Woodside released its half-year profit of a six percent increase on Tuesday. The profit of $AUD2.17b is a record for the fossil fuel giant and its climate-wrecking oil and gas.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific, together with the Conservation Council of WA, will be hosting a public, peaceful vigil in front of Woodside’s headquarters on Wednesday afternoon to show their concern for vulnerable marine wildlife threatened by Woodside’s Burrup hub gas expansion.
- The below response, obtained by Greenpeace Australia Pacific, can be attributed to a DBCA spokesperson:
The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) was notified a whale calf had been struck by a tugboat operated by Woodside contractor Riverwijs in the Port of Dampier at about 10.30am on Thursday 10 August. A team of trained responders from DBCA travelled by boat to the site where a number of whales were observed, but none with any visible sign of distress or injury. DBCA continues to liaise with Riverwijs and Woodside regarding this incident and will resume the search if there is another confirmed sighting of the whale.
- The 2022 Greenpeace report into the cost of Woodside’s Burrup Hub for whales can be found here.
- The recent release about Woodside’s seismic plan can be found here, and the Woodside’s turtle habitat dredging release is here.
- The NOAA information sheet on whale strikes can be found here.
Photos and vision of Greenpeace’s recent actions to expose Woodside’s Riser Turret Mooring, another of Woodside’s environmental scandals, can be found here.
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Kimberley Bernard on 0407 581 404 or [email protected]