Stab Magazine | Thousands Of Gold Coast Surfers Paddle Out In Protest Against Equinor's Oil Proposal
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Thousands Of Gold Coast Surfers Paddle Out In Protest Against Equinor’s Oil Proposal

#FightForTheBight comes to Burleigh, with thousands paddling out in support of protecting Australia’s southern coast.

Words by stab

“The truly amazing thing about today was that Burleigh Heads is nowhere near Equinor’s worst case oil spill modelling,” wrote longtime surf journalist Sean Doherty on his Instagram, following the Gold Coast’s massive anti-oil demonstration yesterday at Burleigh Heads. “The oil stops at Port Macquarie. That means the 2000 people who showed up today were either there in support of their southern mates, or were there supporting a way of life.”

For those who don’t know about the major oil debacle currently embroiling Australia, here’s the gist:  

Norwegian oil company Equinor has proposed a “test drilling” in the Great Australian Bight, off the coast of South Oz, in search of potential oil reserves. 

Many are concerned that drilling in the Bight, an ocean region that boasts the most powerful ocean storms in the world, could lead to an accidental spill, sending oil all over Australia’s southern coast and beyond. (Below is an image that Equinor created, showing potentially impacted areas if a “worst case scenario” spill was to occur.)

Screen Shot 2019 03 17 at 10.36.38 AM

One might call this “dire.”

Since learning about this proposal, many important figures in the Australian surfing community have voiced their concerns about drilling in the Bight, essentially telling Equinor to “fuck off”.

Leading the charge has been long-time surf journalist Sean Doherty, whose Torquay home would be in the direct line of fire should any drilling problems arise. 

Not in the line of fire, however, are the thousands of Gold Coast surfers who paddled out at Burleigh Heads yesterday in protest of Equinor’s proposed drilling. 

“Yeah it was so cool to see so many people come together for the same goal,” Jack Freestone told Stab. “It was the biggest paddle out I’ve ever seen. Had to be over 1000 people.”

For all the ironic labeling of surfers as a “tribe”, “community”, or “brother/sisterhood”, it’s times like these that we see how connected the ocean truly makes us. Despite our differences in background and beliefs, we can (mostly) all agree that anything that puts the ocean in peril is bad, and that we must rage against it as one loud, proud unit. 

“Most Australians live by the coast but have little real say in any big decision that effects where they live,” Doherty continued. “It’s an old boys club. But the crew on the Gold Coast – and Cronulla, Ceduna and Streaky Bay today – have put those in power on notice. You want to drop a big dumb anachronistic fossil fuel project into the Southern Ocean on a pure profit motive then you’re gonna get more of this.”

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