Happy Thursday everyone! I’m so happy to be celebrating the first ever 20th session of the Speak Up For Blue Podcasts! Today I’d like to bring to your attention a unique partnership for ocean exploration that frankly makes me a pretty uneasy. I recently read an article claiming that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the federal agency responsible for scientific research in Australia, has hired out one of its marine research vessels to Chevron and BP.
According to the terms of the partnership, the vessel has to spend two months searching for oil and gas deposits in the Southern Ocean, during which the oil and gas company will pay for fuel and other maintenance costs of the vessel. The agreement was reached after the government stated it could only fund the vessel for 180 days. This appears, at least in my mind, to constitute a pretty clear conflict of interest for the Australian government.
The governing body tasked with properly and sustainably managing its ocean resources should not be using an industry funding source to collect data for the purposes of regulating that industry. The pressure for future funding by these oil and gas companies could sway CSIRO to recommend or take action on certain ocean-related issues, specifically related to sites with oil and gas deposits. The unique validity of scientific reference lies in its objectivity; studies funded by industries or special interest groups are typically subject to more bias than independently-funded studies.
And while I certainly recognize that ocean exploration funding is a luxury that many countries cannot afford, its disheartening to think that this is what it’s come to. The ocean affects everyone, whether you live on the coast or inland. Therefore, elected officials and policy makers should understand that the proper management of our oceans is a global concern, and decisions affecting this management should be kept as free from industry pressures as possible. That’s why I’m asking you, the SUFB community, to convey your passion for the proper management of our oceans to your local, regional, or national elected officials. Only by making a clear and united plea to conserve our oceans will we start to see some changes.
Enjoy the podcast!