Save the Giant Australian Cuttlefish and Upper Spencer Gulf

The Point Lowly Peninsula is the only known place in the world where hundreds of thousands of Giant Australian Cuttlefish gather to breed. We need your help to urge the State Government of South Australia to protect this wildlife phenomenon from proposed industrial impacts.

Commercially fished species also spawn in the area and the Upper Spencer Gulf supports two resident dolphin pods plus visiting whales, endangered sealions and turtles.

A desalination plant, iron ore export facility and fuel distribution hub are currently proposed for the Point Lowly Peninsula. Should they proceed, they will degrade water quality and habitat values in this sensitive ecosystem. Scientific studies have shown that increased salinity, toxins and acoustic trauma can harm or kill cuttlefish and their eggs.

The Giant Australian Cuttlefish and Upper Spencer Gulf fish nurseries need your help. Sign and share our petition and urge our State Premier to insist on relocating proposed industrial developments to a less sensitive area.

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We the undersigned urge the South Australian State Government to insist on the relocation of the BHP Billiton Desalination Plant currently approved for Point Lowly. We feel this is a critical measure to protect the Giant Australian Cuttlefish breeding grounds and vulnerable fish nurseries of the Upper Spencer Gulf. The health of this ecosystem provides fish stock for South Australian fisheries and attractions for burgeoning ecotourism in the area. It has been referred to as our 'marine Arkaroola' and needs protection.

This year, breeding Giant Cuttlefish numbers dropped to approximately 10% of previous years, without explanation. The proposed desalination plant threatens to impact the population further. Its operation will release salty brine into this sensitive ecosystem. Scientific studies have shown that increased salinity kills cuttlefish and squid eggs. It is likely to harm the early life stages of other fish which spawn in the area also, including Snapper, Western King Prawns, Squid, Eagle Rays and Port Jackson Sharks. The Upper Spencer Gulf also supports local dolphin pods and visiting whales.

Further to the desalination plant, proposals for an Ammonium Nitrate (explosives and fertilizer) factory, further hydrocarbon processing, diesel storage and an expanded port are all proposed for the same delicate peninsula. Increased industry will create new pressures on the environment, introducing various contaminants via increased shipping activities, transporting hazardous materials and generating noise pollution (known to harm cuttlefish, squid, dolphins and whales).

Allowing the desalination plant to proceed at this location also threatens the livelihoods of commercial and recreational fishers, and the communities they in turn support. We do not believe that the wider economic, environmental and social costs have been considered with due care.

In 2009, the Environment, Resources and Development Committee deemed the site unsuitable, recommending proponent BHP Billiton 'conduct further investigations into alternative sites... because of the high potential risk to the marine environment at Point Lowly.'

The Point Lowly Peninsula was zoned for industry during a desperate economic time for Whyalla. It was also a time when the surrounding marine environment's importance was vastly undervalued. Time has shown us that where industry operates, accidents happen and environments are impacted. Santos, the only industrial facility currently operating on the Point Lowly Peninsula is now in a court battle with the EPA over the contamination of ground water at their site- the wider impact of which remains unknown.

The Olympic Dam mine expansion EIS and supplementary EIS demonstrate BHP's eagerness to minimise construction costs and access convenient, industrially zoned land. Is the economic proposition of a 100 years of mine operation worth jeopardising renewable fisheries and growing ecotourism in this region, and potentially the wider Spencer Gulf?

Jay, the Giant Australian Cuttlefish and Upper Spencer Gulf fish nurseries need your help. We urge you to insist that BHP Billiton relocate the proposed desalination plant to a less vulnerable area.

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