A Senate committee investigating the impact of seismic testing on the marine environment and fisheries has recommended the federal government facilitate more research into its impacts, finding little has been done to date.
It further recommended funding from this research come from the government and from revenue from a levy applied to oil and gas companies that conduct seismic testing.
The inquiry was led by Tasmanian Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson had heard from a number of state bodies and individuals, such as the Scallop Fishermen's Association of Tasmania, the Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council, the Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishermen's Association, and the Wilderness Society.
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The Scallop Fishermen's Association referred to a occasion in 2010 where 24,000 tonnes of scallops were lost, with a retail value or more than $70 million, following a seismic survey in the Bass Strait.
It submitted there was plenty of forensic evidence with masses of dead scallop shells, but no definitive proof seismic testing was the cause.
The University of Tasmania's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies stated these events highlighted a lack of evidence concerning the potential impacts of seismic surveying on marine invertebrates and the need to develop that evidence base.
Senator Whish-Wilson said testimony to the committee had demonstrated there was a David and Goliath stand-off between a handful of multinational oil and gas industry giants and multigenerational local fishing communities.
"Big oil and gas corporations - many who buy influence with hefty political donations - have been seismic testing for the last 50 years while there has been virtually no scrutiny on the impacts this has had to the marine environment," he said.
"It took three attempts to get this inquiry established, with evidence revealing government ministers were keen to avoid the scrutiny of a Senate inquiry.
"Evidence revealed that the fossil fuel industry has largely been operating within a science and research vacuum with big companies cherry picking data that suits their interests to the detriment of our local industries, communities and marine life."
Senator Whish-Wilson said the Greens would soon introduce a bill to ban seismic testing.
The committee recommended the government support the development and the use of lower-impact technologies for all offshore seismic surveys.
In terms of research, it recommended the government significantly fund additional research to study the short term, long term, and cumulative impacts of seismic testing on marine animals and the environment.
The committee said the government should require seismic testing proponents to collect and share marine animal and marine environment-related data that has been collected before, during and after a seismic survey.
It said the exclusion zones for seismic activities should be created in or around marine parks.
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