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Environmental protection on the North West Shelf of Western Australia : with particular reference to petroleum exploration and development

Bell, R.W., Bell, B., Bunny, F., Chambers, F., Hamilton, S., Pornpipat, S. and Thexton, N. (1992) Environmental protection on the North West Shelf of Western Australia : with particular reference to petroleum exploration and development. School of Environmental Science, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia.

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Abstract

The recent expansion of the Petroleum industry on the North West Shelf of Western Australia has been comparatively rapid and raised concerns about its cumulative and regional impact on the marine environment. The present study was conducted to review environmental protection procedures in place for the Petroleum Industry on the North West Shelf and to suggest directions for policy formulation. A regional framework which would enable informed decision making in relation to petroleum exploration and development along the North West Shelf, while also maintaining and protecting the ecological integrity of the region, was a prime concern of this study.

Base line studies for petroleum exploration and development proposals, together with annual and triennial environmental monitoring reports represent a substantial but currently largely unused resource. Little use has been made of this database because of limited staffing resources in the EPA and Mines Department. A major recommendation of the present study is that a thorough review of this database be undertaken. Moreover, it is recommended that the review be undertaken as a cooperative venture of the public and private agencies involved in the North West Shelf. Such a review will identify information gaps, ecosystem research priorities leading probably to significant changes in the type of information required in the future for Environmental Impact Assessment and subsequent monitoring programmes;

It is also recommended that the cumulative impacts of the commercial and recreational fishing industries and the tourism industry on the North West Shelf should be more carefully assessed. Increasingly, the multi-purpose use of the North West Shelf for transport, petroleum exploration and development, fishing, recreation and conservation will require more sophisticated regional management. In the short term, an increased role for the Petroleum Environment Liaison Committee is envisaged. With the increasing complexity of these issues for regional management, it is recommended that in the medium term the establishment of a co-ordinating Regional Marine Authority be considered .

Publication Type: Report
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
Series Name: Environmental Science Report No 92/1
Publisher: School of Environmental Science, Murdoch University
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/18350
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