Australian Governement branding Australian Government branding

2015 Special notices

This page sets out the general and special notifications regarding the acreage areas offered for petroleum exploration in the 2015 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release (Release Areas).

These notices are designed to serve as an ongoing reference for successful applicants, as they plan their exploration permit work program obligations.

The attention of potential applicants is drawn to both the General Notices for All Areas and the Notices for Specific Areas set out below, which have been identified through consultation with parties that have existing rights and interests in the 2015 Release Areas.

The identified requirements for Release Areas may result in additional conditions being included in an exploration title at the time of award.

The Australian Government does not guarantee that the information provided is accurate or complete. Explorers should not rely solely on information contained in this document when making a commercial decision and are responsible for checking the accuracy of information prior to commencing any petroleum exploration operation.

General Notices for all areas

Petroleum legislation requires that offshore operations be carried out in a manner that does not unduly interfere with the rights and interests of others. There is also a need to comply with other requirements and standards set by Australian law. Successful applicants for offshore titles need to have due regard for matters such as:

  • Environment and heritage protection;
  • Native Title rights and interests;
  • Navigation and maritime safety;
  • Fishing activities;
  • Defence activities;
  • Submarine telecommunication cables; and
  • Financial Assurance.

Australian Defence Force Airspace Cell: 1800 652 222

Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA): petroleum@afma.gov.au

Australian Hydrographic Office (AHO): hydro.ntm@defence.gov.au

Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA): NauticalAdvice@amsa.gov.au

Border Protection Command (BPC): bpliaison@customs.gov.au

Commonwealth Department of Defence: +61 2 6266 8650, E-mail: Offshore.Petroleum@defence.gov.au

Commonwealth Department of the Environment (Marine Reserves): marinereserves@environment.gov.au

Commonwealth Department of the Environment (EPBC Act): ciu@environment.gov.au

Commonwealth Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: +61 2 6261 1111

Commonwealth Department of Industry and Science: petroleum.exploration@industry.gov.au

Defence Headquarters Air Command: chris.westwood@defence.gov.au

National Native Title Tribunal: enquiries@nntt.gov.au

National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA): information@nopsema.gov.au

National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA): info@nopta.gov.au

Telstra: michael.b.costin@team.telstra.com.au

Border Protection Command (BPC) coordinates national awareness and response efforts to protect Australia’s interests in the Australian maritime jurisdiction. BPC is a multiagency taskforce which utilises assets assigned from Australian Customs and Border Protection and the Australian Defence Force to conduct civil maritime operations.

BPC will be renamed Maritime Border Command MBC) from 01 July 2015 within the Australian Border Force as the single frontline operational border control and enforcement entity of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection charged with enforcing customs and immigration laws and protecting Australia’s borders. At this time, the functions of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service will be formally integrated into a single department (the Department of Immigration and Border Protection) and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service will cease to exist.

Titleholders and operators should note that BPC operates on behalf of Government agencies and regulators. Titleholders and operators are to consult Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development and the Department of Industry and Science for compliance with Australian legislation on security and safety matters in the conduct of petroleum development activities.

BPC adopts an intelligence-led threat based approach to conduct of maritime security operations in response to security threats in Australia’s maritime jurisdiction, namely, illegal activity in protected areas; illegal exploitation of natural resources; marine pollution, prohibited imports and exports; unauthorised maritime arrivals’ compromise to biosecurity; piracy, robbery or violence at sea; and maritime terrorism. Titleholders and operators can seek advice from BPC on preventive, preparedness and response measures. All requests seeking advice should be routed through the relevant regulator.

Titleholders and operators are encouraged to share all relevant information with BPC on their security and safety preventive, preparedness, and response measures including contact information for executive engagement, 24/7 POC, and routine matters throughout the exploration, drilling, production and decommissioning phases of their petroleum development activities.

BPC should be notified of exploration, drilling and development activities including positions of associated infrastructure and assets that will be in the Release Area preferably 14 days prior to commencement of the activity. BPC is to be kept appraised at all times of any change in details of the activity, assets deployed or infrastructure built in the Release Area. Failure to communicate information in a timely manner may compromise BPC ability to respond should an emerging situation require a response.

Further information regarding the Australian Government maritime security arrangements is available at http://www.customs.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/GAMSA.pdf

The contact point for communicating details of proposed activities in the Release Areas is bpliaison@customs.gov.au

Some of the areas in the 2015 release coincide with military restricted airspace. When activated by a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), the restricted airspace can operate down to low altitudes including, at times, to sea level. Non-Defence flying operations are required to be conducted in accordance with NOTAM restrictions.

Offshore areas may coincide with a Military Exercise Area (MEA) or a Defence Practice Area (DPA). Potential applicants are advised that the Minister for Defence has the authority, under the Defence Force Regulations 1952, to declare and Gazette any area of sea or air space as a DPA, for carrying out Defence operations or practices as specified in a NOTAM or a Notice to Mariners (NOTMAR). When a DPA is activated, unauthorised access to the area will be prohibited; access to affected permit areas may also be restricted. Potential applicants should also be aware that all sea and aircraft can be ordered to evacuate the practice areas at short notice.

As there is potential for unexploded ordnance (UXO) on the sea floor in either a MEA or a DPA, applicants should be aware of the risks involved in conducting exploration activities. The potential presence of UXO on the sea floor carries with it an associated risk of detonation, which will be borne by the applicants. Defence takes no responsibility for reporting the location and type of ordnance dropped in the areas, for identification of or removal of any UXO, or for any damage sustained to equipment in the unlikely event of UXO detonation. As a consequence, the Australian Government provides no guarantee or indemnity to title holders or others with regard to the safety or whereabouts of UXO in such areas.

In addition, as training exercises can take place at any time and often involve the use of live fire, permit holders must consult with Defence to minimise the applicant's own risk. Details of 2015 release areas that coincide with a MEA or a DPA are provided below in the Notices for Specific Areas.

Locations of restricted and prohibited areas, including maps, are listed in Annual Australian NOTAM and Australian Annual NOTMAR publications, which are available from the Royal Australian Air Force Aeronautical Information Service website (RAAF AIS - Designated Airspace Handbook) and the Royal Australian Navy Hydrographic Office website (available under 'Annual Notices') respectively (see addresses below).

Defence requires notification, prior to commencement, of any exploration works, including positions and dimensions (lateral and vertical) of associated infrastructure and permanent infrastructure development, to be undertaken in areas that lie within Defence Restricted Airspace or Training Areas.

Details of routes of any associated helicopter support operations are also requested. The appropriate point of contact is the Australian Defence Force Airspace Cell, which can be contacted on ADF.Airspace@defence.gov.au, or by telephone 1800 652 222.

For all release areas, successful applicants will be required to notify the Australian Hydrographic Service a minimum of three weeks prior to any exploration works to be undertaken, to enable assessment of the impact on the maritime industry. Further, the Australian Hydrographic Service requires details of any exploration activity including suspended well heads, including whether the well will be left suspended or plugged and abandoned, or proposed infrastructure developments. This will enable relevant navigational charts to be updated and the issue of appropriate navigational warnings. The appropriate contact details have been provided below.

Successful applicants will need to liaise with Headquarters Air Command during the planning phase and to notify any exploration activity. Titleholders will need to provide positions and dimensions (lateral and vertical) of all associated fixed and mobile infrastructure including drilling rigs. Additionally, Headquarters Air Command requires advice within 48 hours, of any change in position of exploration activities to avoid conflict with ADF exercise activity.

The following Defence contacts will be able to advise of planned Defence activities in specific areas:

General Defence 
Offshore Petroleum Enquiry
Property Management Branch
26 Brindabella Business Park
PO BOX 7925 CANBERRA BC 2610
E-mail: Offshore.Petroleum@defence.gov.au

Australian Hydrographic Service
Mr Mark Bolger
Manager Nautical Assessment and Maintenance
Chart Production and Maintenance
Australian Hydrographic Service,
Locked Bag 8801
Wollongong NSW 2500
Telephone: +61 2 4223 6590
Facsimile: +61 2 4223 6599
E-mail: hydro.ntm@defence.gov.au
Website: www.hydro.gov.au

Headquarters Air Command
AIRCDRE Stephen Meredith
Deputy Air Commander Australia
RAAF Glenbrook
Great Western Highway
Glenbrook NSW 2773
Telephone: 02 4737 7010
E-mail: stephen.meredith@defence.gov.au

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is a Commonwealth agency responsible for maritime safety, protection of the marine environment and maritime and aviation search and rescue.

Applicants should note that significant commercial shipping may be encountered in some Release Areas and measures to mitigate the risk of collision must be taken in all cases. The Notices for Specific Areas provide more information on this matter.

Information on AMSA’s role in the consultation process required by the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009 for offshore petroleum activities can be found at: http://www.amsa.gov.au/navigation/shipping-management/offshore-activities/petroleum-ind-consultation/index.asp

Applicants are advised to initially examine historic vessel traffic patterns in their area of interest, with a view to implementing adequate and robust collision prevention measures. Digital data, map products and historical vessel traffic data can be found on the AMSA’s Spatial@AMSA website: https://www.operations.amsa.gov.au/Spatial/

Before submitting draft Environmental Plans for acceptance, commencing any exploration, drilling or development operation or embarking upon any non-drilling exploration activity (including hydrographic surveys, 2D, 3D and 4D seismic surveys and/or bottom sampling), applicants are requested to liaise closely with AMSA’s Nautical and Regulation Section (email: NauticalAdvice@amsa.gov.au) with a view to receiving nautical advice regarding adequate collision prevention measures for the intended activity.

Such collision prevention measures may include (but not be limited to) additional warning and/or navigational lights, Automatic Identification System (AIS) beacons and/or offshore guard vessel/s that can monitor traffic and ensure early action is taken in the event of a vessel approaching the area of operations. In addition to collision prevention measures, AMSA may recommend proposed changes to survey run lines and/or modifications to proposed operational areas within a title.

If the exploration vessel (such as a seismic survey vessel) is restricted in her ability to manoeuvre, it must display appropriate day shapes, lights, streamers and reflective tail buoys, to indicate the vessel is towing and is therefore restricted in her ability to manoeuvre. A proper look out must be maintained by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions. This is in accordance with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (COLREGS).

For exploratory drilling, including drilling conducted by Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODUs), applicants should take all practicable action to avoid any vertical stationary/dynamic positioning drilling activities within, or in the approaches to, any charted Shipping Fairway. This includes any drilling within a related exclusion zone.

Exploration, vertical drilling and/or development activities are not permitted within any charted International Maritime Organization adopted Traffic Separation Scheme(s).

Further information regarding ship safety is available at: http://www.amsa.gov.au/navigation/shipping-management/offshore-activities/

The Australian Government requires titleholders to conduct their activities in a manner that ensures a high standard of environmental protection. Of particular importance to offshore petroleum exploration are the requirements of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGS Act) and Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Penalties may apply to any activities in breach of the OPGGS Act and EPBC Act.

The Australian National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) is the sole designated assessor for environmental management of offshore petroleum activities in Commonwealth waters.

On 28 February 2014, the Australian Government commenced streamlined arrangements that apply to petroleum activities in Commonwealth waters. The Australian Minister for the Environment has issued a class approval under the EPBC Act for petroleum and greenhouse gas activities in Commonwealth waters, subject to the exclusions detailed below.

The class approval means titleholders seeking to undertake petroleum activities in Commonwealth waters no longer need to refer those actions for assessment under the EPBC Act provided they are undertaken in accordance with the environmental management processes under the OPGGS Act as described in a formal document, ‘the Program’, available at: http://www.industry.gov.au/resource/UpstreamPetroleum/OffshorePetroleumEnvironment/Documents/ProgramReport.pdf..

The Program describes the requirements under the OPGGS Act and subordinate regulations; in particular the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009 (Environment Regulations). Further information on streamlining may be found at www.industry.gov.au/streamlining.

The class approval does not cover activities that:

  • Have, will have or are likely to have a significant impact on the environment on Commonwealth land;
  • Are taken in any area of sea or seabed that is declared to be a part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975;
  • Have, will have or are likely to have a significant impact on the world heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage property or on the national heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef National Heritage place;
  • Are taken in the Antarctic; and
  • Are injection and/or storage of greenhouse gas.

Key approvals

  • All petroleum activities in Commonwealth waters require an accepted Environment Plan under the Environment Regulations before they can proceed.
  • New development activities require an accepted Offshore Project Proposal, prior to submission of any Environment Plans under the Environment Regulations.
  • Activities that are to be carried out within a declared Commonwealth Marine Reserve may also require approval from the Director of National Parks.
  • Activities excluded from streamlined arrangements (listed above) that are likely to have an impact on a matter of National Environmental Significance also require approval under Part 4 of the EPBC Act.

Information on the OPGGS Environment Regulations (Environment Regulations) is available at: http://www.industry.gov.au/resource/UpstreamPetroleum/OffshorePetroleumEnvironment/Pages/OffshorePetroleumandGreenhouseGasStorageRegulations2009.aspx.

Information on the EPBC Act is available at: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/about-us/legislation/environment-protection-and-biodiversity-conservation-act-1999.

OPGGS Act and associated regulations

The object of the Environment Regulations is to ensure that any petroleum or greenhouse gas activity carried out in an offshore area is carried out in a manner:

  • Consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development;

  • By which the environmental impacts and risks of the activity will be reduced to as low as reasonably practicable; and

  • By which the environmental impacts and risks of the activity will be of an acceptable level.

Environment Plans

Under the Environment Regulations, a titleholder must have an accepted Environment Plan in place for a ‘petroleum activity’ prior to undertaking that activity.

A ‘petroleum activity’ is defined in the Environment Regulations as operations or works carried out in an offshore area for the purpose of exercising a right conferred under a petroleum title under the OPGGS Act or discharging an obligation imposed on a titleholder by the OPGGS Act or subordinate regulation. The titleholder is responsible for determining if an activity meets the definition of ‘petroleum activity’ under the Environment Regulations, and for preparation of the Environment Plan for NOPSEMA assessment.

An Environment Plan must demonstrate that impacts and risks to the environment are reduced to as low as reasonably practicable and managed to an acceptable level. The required content of an Environment Plan is detailed within the Environment Regulations (refer Division 2.3). These content requirements include that titleholders consider impacts and risks on matters of National Environmental Significance where relevant. Matters of National Environmental Significance are defined in the EPBC Act and further described below.

The Environment Plan must include an Oil Pollution Emergency Plan (OPEP) to ensure that the range of credible oil spill risks associated with the activity that have the potential for environmental impact have been detailed, evaluated and adequately prepared for, and that adequately tested response measures are in place (refer Regulation 14 of the Environment Regulations).

The OPGGS Act also requires that titleholders have sufficient financial assurance to meet costs, expenses and liabilities associated with undertaking a petroleum activity. As at 1 January 2015, legislative amendments came into effect requiring NOPSEMA to be reasonably satisfied that the titleholder is compliant with their financial assurance requirements prior to accepting an Environment Plan. As a result, titleholders must declare to NOPSEMA that they have sufficient financial assurance to carry out the activity and submit a financial assurance confirmation at the time of making their Environment Plan submission. For further information, please refer to: http://www.nopsema.gov.au/assets/Guidelines/GL1381-Financial-assurance-for-petroleum-titles-Rev-4-March-2015.pdf

The Environment Regulations also require titleholders to undertake consultation with ‘relevant persons’, defined (refer to Regulation 11A) as persons whose functions, interests or activities may be affected by the activities to be carried out.

Titleholders must, in the Environment Plan, include a report on all consultations comprising a summary of consultation, an assessment of the merits of any objection or claim, a statement of the titleholder’s response to each, and the full text of all correspondence and an assessment. The implementation strategy for an Environment Plan must also demonstrate adequate arrangements for ongoing stakeholder consultation.

NOPSEMA will assess the titleholder’s Environment Plan and decide to either ‘accept’ or ‘refuse to accept’ the Environment Plan (refer to Regulation 10A for the acceptance criteria) then subsequently monitor the titleholder’s continued compliance with the accepted Environment Plan. Bidders should note that NOPSEMA cannot accept an Environment Plan where the activity, or part of the activity, would take place within the boundaries of a declared World Heritage property.

Offshore Project Proposals

Under the Environment Regulations, a proponent must have an accepted Offshore Project Proposal in place for a new development activity, or ‘offshore project’, before submission of an Environment Plan for that activity.

An ‘offshore project’ is defined in the Environment Regulations as one or more activities that are undertaken for the purpose of the recovery of petroleum, other than on an appraisal basis, including any conveyance of recovered petroleum by pipeline.

An Offshore Project Proposal is a high-level document that describes the ‘whole-of-lifecycle’ of a proposed new development and demonstrates that impacts and risks to the environment of the proposed project would be managed an acceptable level. The required content of an Offshore Project Proposal is detailed within the Environment Regulations (refer Regulation 5A). These content requirements include that titleholders consider impacts and risks on matters of National Environmental Significance where relevant. Matters of National Environmental Significance are defined in the EPBC Act and further described below.

Further information on NOPSEMA’s environmental management authorisation process is available at: http://www.nopsema.gov.au/environmental-management/

Both Environment Plans and Offshore Project Proposals require applicants to consider the potential impacts and risks to matters of National Environmental Significance.

The Department of the Environment has developed an interactive database to provide further information on matters of National Environmental Significance (for example wetlands of international importance, endangered and vulnerable species, World and National Heritage areas). The database is available at: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/pmst/.

Bidders should note that this advice, and the advice in the Notices for Specific Areas, was produced during late 2014 and early 2015 and that information on matters of National Environmental Significance, such as species location, timing and habitat importance, may change over time as new information becomes available.

Potential bidders are encouraged to consult this database with respect to a permit area of interest before finalising their bids. Potential bidders should consider the range of impacts and risks to matters of National Environmental Significance throughout the exploration, production and decommissioning phases of a petroleum development activities and greenhouse gas storage activities.

Many of the Release Areas are in proximity to sensitive environments, including important habitat for threatened and migratory species, wetlands of international importance, World Heritage Areas, National Heritage Areas, or areas of important ecological and heritage value in the Commonwealth marine environment. Activities proposed in these Release Areas will be subject to a high level of environmental scrutiny, and further assessment and an EPBC ACT approval may be required.

Further information on consideration of matters of National Environmental Significance under the EPBC Act is considered in the discussion on EPBC Act Assessment Processes below.

Detailed information on matters of National Environmental Significance and associated requirements under the Environment Regulations can be found in Chapter 7 of the 2014 Strategic Assessment Report of NOPSEMA’s environmental management authorisation process at: http://www.industry.gov.au/resource/UpstreamPetroleum/OffshorePetroleumEnvironment/Documents/StrategicAssessmentReport.pdf.

Applicants are encouraged to consult with NOPSEMA early in their planning processes should there be particular environmental sensitivities of concern.

The Australian Government Director of National Parks is responsible for the management of Commonwealth marine reserves. Where the Director has not issued a class approval or general approval in relation to activities within a marine reserve, that activity may require separate assessment and approval.

Forty new Commonwealth marine reserves were established around Australia in November 2012. Management arrangements for these new Commonwealth marine reserves are transitional while an independent review of the Commonwealth marine reserves is undertaken. Under transitional arrangements, there are no changes to management arrangements in the marine reserves that existed prior to the establishment of the new reserves (that is, the same restrictions on activities will continue to apply even where those reserves have been incorporated into new reserves). Following the independent review, management plans will be prepared and will come into effect; this may change management arrangements and approval requirements.

A management plan for the fourteen reserves in the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network, which is not subject to the review, came into effect on 1 July 2013.

Many of the 2015 release areas overlap Commonwealth marine reserves. Areas of overlap are identified in the Notices for Specific Areas.

For information on current management arrangements for Commonwealth marine reserves it is recommended to contact Parks Australia by emailing marinereserves@environment.gov.au or visit the Department’s website at http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-reserves

All activities must consider the impacts on the environment, including matters of National Environmental Significance, and the EPBC Act Environmental Assessment Process may apply to activities excluded from streamlined arrangements; activities that:

  • Have, will have or are likely to have a significant impact on the environment on Commonwealth land;
  • Are taken in any area of sea or seabed that is declared to be a part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975’
  • Have, will have or are likely to have a significant impact on the world heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage property or on the national heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef National Heritage place;
  • Are taken in the Antarctic; and
  • Are injection and/or storage of greenhouse gas.

In planning activities that are excluded from streamlined arrangements, it is strongly recommended that sufficient time be allowed for the EPBC Act referral process, as well as any requests for further information, which suspends the referral process and assessment and approval processes.

In these cases, additional time will be required for assessment of the action and for the Minister to make a decision whether to approve the taking of the action. The timeframes for assessment processes are identified in the EPBC Act and vary depending upon the type of assessment required and the time taken to receive information from the applicants to complete the assessment. Production activities, exploration activities and greenhouse gas storage activities that may have a significant impact on environmentally sensitive areas are, in particular, more likely to require further assessment and an approval decision under the EPBC Act.

Potential bidders are reminded that the awarding of petroleum or greenhouse gas storage acreage under the OPGGS Act is not a guarantee of approval under the EPBC Act. A referral may result in a decision by the Minister that the action is clearly unacceptable, or an assessment and approval process may result in a decision to not approve the taking of the action.

Information on the assessment process and statutory timeframes can be viewed at: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/environment-protection/environment-assessments/assessment-and-approval-process.

Further information on consideration of specific matters of National Environmental Significance under the EPBC Act Assessment Process follows, specifically in relation to:

  • Heritage Values;
  • Commonwealth Marine Areas and Commonwealth Land;
  • Indigenous Heritage Values;
  • Other protected matters;
  • The Historic Shipwrecks Act ;
  • Cetaceans; and
  • Marine Bioregional Planning.

Heritage Values

Listed heritage values are protected and managed under a range of Commonwealth powers.

World Heritage properties are sites that are recognised under the World Heritage Convention as being of international significance because of their outstanding universal natural and/or cultural values. The World Heritage Committee makes the final decision on whether a place is inscribed on the World Heritage List (WHL). Places on the WHL are protected under the EPBC Act as matters of National Environmental Significance.

The National Heritage List (NHL) has been established to include places of outstanding heritage significance to Australia. The NHL comprises places with natural, historic and/or Indigenous values. A place entered in the NHL is known as a National Heritage place. Each place in the List has been assessed by an independent body, the Australian Heritage Council, to determine whether the place has national heritage values. The Australian Government Environment Minister makes the final decision on whether a place is listed. Places in the NHL are protected under the EPBC Act as matters of National Environmental Significance.

The Commonwealth Heritage List (CHL), established under the EPBC Act, comprises natural, Indigenous and historic heritage places entirely within a Commonwealth area or outside the Australian jurisdiction and owned or leased by the Commonwealth and which the Australian Government Environment Minister is satisfied have one or more Commonwealth Heritage values. The Minister makes the final decision on whether to include a place in the CHL.

In addition, Australian Government agencies are required to develop:

  • Heritage strategies;
  • A heritage register; and
  • Management plans for places on the CHL to protect the heritage values of the Commonwealth Heritage Places they own or lease.

The WHL, NHL and CHL are compiled and maintained by the Department of the Environment available at http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/heritage. As of November 2013, there are 100 places in the NHL, 19 places on the WHL and 397 places included in the CHL. These lists include some offshore areas.

New places are added to the lists on an ongoing basis. The database should be investigated for relevant areas at: http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/ahdb/search.pl. The values of CHL places are protected by the EPBC Act as part of the environment of Commonwealth lands and waters.

From February 2012, all references to the Register of the National Estate (established in 1976 as a national inventory of places of significant natural and/or cultural heritage) were removed from the EPBC Act and the Australian Heritage Council Act 2003. The Register now remains as an online archive of information about Australia’s heritage places. The EPBC Act continues to protect the heritage values of places in the Register that are in Commonwealth areas or are otherwise the responsibility of the Australian Government, such as the heritage values of places in the NHL.

Although advice is provided on specific sites, prospective bidders and applicants are encouraged to check each release area for any sites relating to Australian government heritage lists.

Commonwealth Marine Areas and Commonwealth Land

In Commonwealth marine areas and on Commonwealth land, heritage values form part of the environment and are considered under the EPBC Act. An Indigenous heritage value does not need to be included on a list or register to be considered under the definition of the environment in the EPBC Act. 

Indigenous Heritage Values

The Commonwealth Heritage management principles include the principle that “Indigenous people are the primary source of information on the value of their heritage and the active participation of Indigenous people in identification, assessment and management is integral to the effective protection of Indigenous heritage values”. All future applicants should refer to Ask First: A guide to respecting Indigenous heritage places and values (Australian Heritage Commission 2002), which can be viewed at: http://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/ahc/publications/commission/books/ask-first.html, and actively engage the relevant Indigenous people with rights or interests to ensure that Indigenous heritage values are given appropriate consideration.

Other protected matters

Potential bidders should also be cognisant of matters of National Environmental Significance, such as, but not limited to, wetlands of international importance (Ramsar), and heritage places (including indigenous heritage values), considerable distances from the acreage, that could potentially be impacted in the event of a hydrocarbon spill.

Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976

The Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 (Historic Shipwrecks Act) protects all shipwrecks and associated relics that are 75 or more years old, regardless of whether their physical location is known. More recent shipwrecks may be declared as historic under the Historic Shipwrecks Act by the Minister. The Historic Shipwrecks Act aims to ensure that historic shipwrecks are protected for their heritage values and maintained for recreational and educational purposes. It also regulates activities that may result in the damage, interference, removal or destruction of an historic shipwreck or associated relic.

The Historic Shipwrecks Act also provides for protected zones to be declared in order to enhance the protection of historic shipwrecks and relics which are of special significance or sensitivity or at particular risk of interference. Permits are required to enter protected zones, which can cover an area up to 200 hectares.

The jurisdiction of the Historic Shipwrecks Act is not limited to Commonwealth marine areas as defined by the EPBC Act, as it protects historic shipwrecks and associated relics found in Australian waters from the low water mark to the edge of the continental shelf, including the coastal waters of the Australian States and Territories.

The requirements of the Historic Shipwrecks Act must be taken into consideration when applying for any State, Territory or Commonwealth planning approval for actions or developments in these waters.

Any actions involving contact with the seabed, or operations in close proximity to the seabed, have the potential to damage, destroy or interfere with historic shipwrecks and it is strongly recommended that applicants should seek professional advice and develop risk mitigation strategies to prevent committing an offence under the Historic Shipwrecks Act.

When undertaking actions in the marine environment, applicants and their contractors must conform to all requirements of the Historic Shipwrecks Act and must:

  1. not damage, destroy or interfere with any historic shipwrecks or relics that may be encountered during the course of a proposed action without a permit;

  2. not enter or conduct activities within a shipwreck protected zone without first obtaining a permit under the Historic Shipwrecks Act;

  3. provide a written notification of the discovery of any suspected shipwreck or shipwreck relics identified during the course of the proposed action including:

    1. a detailed description of the remains of the shipwreck or of the relic. This could include sonar images, electronic data and digital photographs; and

    2. a description of the place where the shipwreck remains or relic is located that is sufficiently detailed to allow it to be identified and re-located including navigation data and datum information.

It should be noted that, although the Historic Shipwrecks Act does not currently provide for the protection of the natural environment associated with shipwrecks, these natural components form an integral part of historic shipwreck sites and are often critical to the long term preservation of shipwrecks and relics. Damage to these natural components can result in increased deterioration of shipwrecks and consequently affect the shipwrecks role as a marine habitat.

Further information about the Historic Shipwrecks Act can be found at: http://www.environment.gov.au/aggregation/historic-shipwrecks.

Cetaceans and the EPBC Act

The 2015 Release Areas includes areas that are in, or in proximity, to recognised cetacean migration corridors and areas listed as biologically important areas – for feeding, breeding, calving and resting.

Species to pay particular attention to on Australia’s north-west coast include humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) and blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus). Humpback whales migrate north from around May each year, reaching the waters of the north-west in June. The southern migration occurs from late August to October. The exact timing of the migration period can vary from year to year and cow and calf migration can occur for up to four weeks before and after these migration periods. Blue whales migrate through the waters of Australia’s north-west from April to August before returning south from October to December.

Species to pay particular attention to on Australia’s southern coast include southern right whales (Eubalaena australis), blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) and sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus). During the calving season, between May and November, southern right whales can be found along the entire southern coast including coastal waters off Tasmania. Between November and May, blue whales utilise important foraging habitat of the Eastern Great Australian Bight upwelling and Kangaroo Island canyons. Sperm whales can also be found foraging in these waters at any time of the year.

Migratory inshore dolphin species are found all year round in the tropical waters of northern Australia.

A policy statement on the interaction between offshore seismic exploration and whales has been developed by the Department of the Environment in consultation with the petroleum industry, whale research scientists and conservation groups. The EPBC Act Policy Statement 2.1 - Interaction between offshore seismic exploration and whales (September 2008) can be obtained at: http://www.environment.gov.au/resource/epbc-act-policy-statement-21-interaction-between-offshore-seismic-exploration-and-whales.

The document outlines standard management measures (Part A) that should be used at all times when operating in Australian waters, and outlines additional management measures (Part B), which should be used in areas where there is a moderate to high likelihood of encountering whales. It should be noted that the intention of Policy Statement 2.1 is to reduce the likelihood that seismic surveys will result in acoustic injury to whales and does not cover potentially significant behavioural impacts to whales, which may occur when whales are calving, feeding, breeding or resting.

The Policy Statement 2.1 states that seismic surveys should not be proposed in proximity to areas where and when cetaceans are likely to be breeding, calving, resting or feeding. Some proposed 2015 release areas in proximity to areas where whales are engaged in critical lifecycle activities. Activities and associated mitigation measures will need careful consideration and may require mitigation measures to be implemented which are beyond the scope of Policy Statement 2.1.

The Biologically Important Areas for cetaceans in the five marine regions are detailed in a Conservation Values Atlas online at: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-bioregional-plans/conservation-values-atlas.

Part 8 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2000 outlines the requirements for all people interacting with cetaceans within Commonwealth waters. The regulations specify how vessels, aircraft and people must behave around these animals. For example, vessels must not deliberately approach whales closer than 100 m. Within 300 m vessels must use caution and travel at low speed. Touching or feeding whales and dolphins is prohibited.

Further information is contained within the Australian National Guidelines for Whale and Dolphin Watching 2005, which has also been adopted by all States and Territories, and is available at: 
http://www.environment.gov.au/resource/australian-national-guidelines-whale-and-dolphin-watching-2005.

Marine Bioregional Planning

A Marine Bioregional Planning Program has been implemented under the EPBC Act. The two key outputs of the Program are the development of four Marine Bioregional plans, to guide decisions under the EPBC Act, and the identification and establishment of a network of marine reserves in Commonwealth waters, which has seen more than 2.3 million square kilometres added to Australia’s national network of marine protected areas.

Marine Bioregional plans were released in August 2012 for the South-west, North-west, North and Temperate East Marine Regions. The Marine Bioregional plans contain detailed information in two schedules. These plans provide a comprehensive description of the conservation values, the pressures these values are under and priorities for further effort and investment. They include a description of key conservation and heritage priorities, as well as current and emerging pressures on the marine environment. The plans also provide advice to people wishing to undertake new activities within Commonwealth waters about the relative risk of significant impact that certain activities may represent for matters of National Environmental Significance. The Marine Bioregional Plan information is located at: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-bioregional-plans

Pressures on some of the conservation values relevant to the oil and gas industry include:

  • For various cetaceans - chemical pollution/contaminants, nutrient pollution, marine debris, noise pollution, physical habitat modification, human presence at sensitive sites, collision/entanglement with infrastructure, collision with vessels and oil pollution;
  • For various marine turtles - marine debris, noise pollution, nutrient pollution, changes to turbidity, light pollution, invasive species, physical habitat modification and collision with vessels;
  • For sea snakes - physical habitat modification and oil pollution;
  • For various elasmobranches - chemical pollution/contaminants, and marine debris; and
  • For various seabirds - chemical pollution/contaminants, changes to turbidity, marine debris, human presence at sensitive sites, human presence at sensitive sites, physical habitat modification, invasive species, light pollution and oil pollution.

The Marine Bioregional plans provide further details on the pressures the conservation values are under at http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-bioregional-plans.

Many of the 2015 Release Areas overlap Key Ecological Features which have been identified as part of marine bioregional planning process. Key Ecological Features assist in defining the Commonwealth marine environment, a matter of National Environmental Significance under EPBC Act, and are elements of the ecosystem that are considered to be of regional importance for biodiversity or ecosystem function and integrity. They include habitats, specific benthic or pelagic features, species groups or ecological communities. Further information about Key Ecological Features can be found at: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-bioregional-plans/conservation-values-atlas.

Pressures on some of the Key Ecological Features relevant to the oil and gas industry include:

  • For the Ancient coastline at 125 m depth contour – noise pollution;
  • For the Ancient Coastline at 90-120 m Depth Contour - physical habitat modification;
  • For the Carbonate bank and terrace system of the Sahul Shelf – changes in sea temperature, marine debris and physical habitat modification;
  • For the Continental Slope Demersal Fish Communities - physical habitat modification and changes in the sea temperature;
  • For the Exmouth Plateau – physical habitat modification;
  • For the Shelf break and slope of the Arafura Shelf – changes in the sea temperature, marine debris, oil pollution and physical habitat modification.

A number of the 2015 Release Areas also overlap with Biologically Important Areas. Biologically Important Areas spatially define areas where aggregations of individuals of a species are known to display biologically important behaviour.

All six species of marine turtle that are found in Australian waters are known or may occur in the waters off north and west Australia. These species include the vulnerable hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate) vulnerable green turtle (Chelonia mydas), endangered loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), endangered olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), endangered leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) and vulnerable flatback turtle (Natator depressus).

The waters off north and west Australia support important nesting areas for green, hawksbill, loggerhead and flatback turtles. Olive ridley turtles are known to forage in the northern parts of the region but records indicate that they nest only occasionally in the region.

The vulnerable fairy tern, as well as numerous migratory bird species are known to occur in the waters off north and west Australia including red-footed booby and wedge-tailed shearwater. Seabirds spend most of their lives at sea, ranging over large distances to forage over the open ocean. Many of these species also breed in and adjacent to the water of north western Australia, including significant populations of terns, shearwaters and boobies.

During their migration, shorebirds use a number of staging areas as intermediate feeding sites to rest and restore energy reserves. Within and adjacent to the region, there are a number of sites which are of international or national significance to shorebirds. Maps of Biologically Important Areas (for species including cetaceans, marine turtles and migratory birds) are available in the Conservation Values Atlas online at: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-bioregional-plans/conservation-values-atlas.

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) represents the interests of the Australian community in the management of fisheries resources in Commonwealth waters. AFMA is committed to the sustainable and economically efficient use of fisheries resources and would like to minimise the impact of offshore petroleum exploration on the sustainability and productivity of fish stocks and any operational conflicts between fishing and petroleum exploration activities.

Consultation with AFMA

AFMA has developed Guidelines for the Petroleum Industry which provide clarity about AFMA’s role and expectations in relation to consultation. The Guidelines are provided as part of a ‘one stop shop’ for the petroleum industry on AFMA’s website (www.afma.gov.au/petroleum). The Guidelines offer information about fisheries and how to consult with the fishing industry, which is required for the preparation of Environment Plans under the Environment Regulations.

The level of consultation required will be dependent upon the type and scale of the activity and subsequent likelihood of impact on fishing. Any type of activity which could cause spatial or temporal disturbance to fishing or scientific management should be the subject of consultation. However, given the large number of petroleum projects, AFMA requires industry to consult directly only in relation to activities which might have impacts at large scale e.g. pipelines and seismic surveys.

In order for AFMA to consider the impact of large scale proposals, clear maps with locations of proposed developments (in latitude and longitude in datum WGS 1984) and associated petroleum title references should be sent to AFMA via email at: petroleum@afma.gov.au.

Consultation with the Fishing Industry

Consultation with the fishing industry should be undertaken in respect of all activities (small and large) and early in the planning stages of an exploration activity, well prior to commencing operations. AFMA’s ‘one-stop-shop’ contains a Fishing Consultation Directory of contacts for fishing industry associations in each fishery (where they exist). In some Commonwealth fisheries, there are no associations other than the Commonwealth Fisheries Association. Another option for petroleum operators is to access the names and addresses of individual Commonwealth Statutory Fishing Rights, Fishing Permit and High Seas Permit holders from the Public Register, which can be obtained from AFMA Licensing for a prescribed fee of $50 (per register).

As the area of the Southern Bluefin Tuna Fishery extends throughout the entirety of Australian waters, AFMA recommends the petroleum industry consult with the Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association.

Consultation with the recreational fishing sector

Consultation with the recreational fishing sector should be undertaken in respect of all activities (small and large) and early in the planning stages of any exploration activity, well prior to commencing operations. AFMA recommends liaison with the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation.

Fishery Management Sensitivities

Management Advisory Committees (MACs) provide AFMA with advice regarding the management of individual fisheries. For the Western Deepwater Trawl and North West Slope Trawl Fisheries, there are no MACs, however a Western Trawl Consultative Panel does exist and meets when necessary to discuss fishery wide issues. AFMA, MACs and the broader fishing industry are concerned about some of the impacts of petroleum exploration on the marine environment.

Seismic surveys

Concerns continue to be expressed about the impact of seismic surveys on the movements of migratory species, as well as on schools of fish which may disperse for prolonged periods following surveys. There are also specific concerns relating to the potential impact of seismic surveys on fish populations, particularly when conducted over large areas or entire reefs. AFMA encourages thorough consultation with industry in relation to this issue. This is reflected in the concerns and recommendations below for each of the exploration areas. Several projects are currently being conducted to assess the impact of marine seismic surveys on various fisheries such as the lobster and scallop fisheries. Results from these studies are expected in 2015. Further information can be found at: http://frdc.com.au/research/current_research_projects/Pages/default.aspx.

Debris

Proponents should make every attempt to leave exploration areas free of obstruction. In circumstances where this is not practicable, any remaining debris should be promptly reported to the relevant peak fishing industry bodies. This is particularly important in the Commonwealth Trawl Fishery, Great Australian Bight Trawl Fishery, Northern Prawn Fishery, North West Slope Trawl Fishery and Western Deepwater Trawl Fishery.

Australian Fisheries Management Authority

Policy, Environment, Economics and Research Section

Box 7051, Canberra BC

CANBERRA ACT 2610

Telephone: +61 2 6225 5555

Email: petroleum@afma.gov.au

Australia-Indonesia Maritime Boundaries

Australia and Indonesia have entered into a number of agreements and arrangements relating to the maritime area between Australia and Indonesia, including the 1971 Agreement Establishing Certain Seabed Boundaries (the 1971 Seabed Agreement) and the 1972 Agreement Establishing Certain Seabed Boundaries in the Area of the Timor and Arafura Seas, Supplementary to the Agreement of 18 May 1971 (the 1972 Seabed Agreement – in force); and the 1997 Treaty Establishing an Exclusive Economic Zone and Certain Seabed Boundaries (the 1997 Perth Treaty – signed but not ratified).

While the 1997 Perth Treaty is not yet in force, the Australian Government acts in accordance with its provisions, including in relation to notification (Article 7).

Under Article 7(d) of the 1997 Perth Treaty, Australia is required to notify Indonesia three months prior to the proposed grant of exploration or exploitation rights in an area of overlapping jurisdiction. However, while it is not a requirement of the 1997 Perth Treaty to advise Indonesia three months prior to the release of offshore acreage areas, in the interests of transparency and good bilateral relations, Australia does notify Indonesia at the time of the annual Offshore Petroleum Acreage Release and again three months prior to the grant of any exploration title.

Advice to Indonesia is coordinated through the Department of Industry and Science, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta which delivers a third person note to the Indonesian Government.

If exploration activity within an area of overlapping jurisdiction involves the construction of an installation or structure, the 1997 Perth Treaty requires Australia to give Indonesia ‘due notice’ of this. A permanent means of giving warning of the installation or structure’s presence must be maintained. An installation or structure generally would be a structure which rests on, or is fixed or connected to, the seabed.

For further information on the Perth Treaty please contact:

Manager – Offshore Exploration Section
Department of Industry and Science
GPO Box 9839
Canberra ACT 2601
Email: petroleum.exploration@industry.gov.au

Indonesian Traditional Fishing in the ‘MoU Box’

Located in the Browse Basin is an area known as the ‘MoU Box’ and subject to the 1974 Australia-Indonesia Memorandum of Understanding regarding the Operations of Indonesian Traditional Fishermen in Areas of the Australian Exclusive Fishing Zone and Continental Shelf (the MoU).

The MoU provides a basis for traditional Indonesian fishing access to the MOU Box within Australia’s north-western exclusive economic zone. Specifically, Australia agrees to refrain from applying its fisheries laws against traditional Indonesian fishermen who conduct their operations in accordance with the MoU.

Traditional fishers can be found in any part of the dedicated MoU Box. Their vessels are likely to have ‘longlines’ of 1-2 km long deployed, and diving is also known to occur. The traditional fishermen do not carry communication equipment and they are not known to use navigation lights or radar reflectors. The vessels are not motorised which limits their capacity to take evasive action. The hulls are timber and present poor radar targets.

Indonesian fishermen target some species that are sedentary, which are, at the harvestable stage, either immobile on or under the seabed or are unable to move except in constant physical contact with the seabed or the subsoil. This includes trochus, beche de mer, abalone, green snail, sponges and molluscs.

Caution is recommended when operating in Release Areas overlapping or near to the MoU Box. As fishing activity may vary from year to year, AFMA recommends successful applicants liaise with AFMA’s MoU Box Manager (jim.prescott@afma.gov.au) for updated information.

Native title is the recognition by Australian law that some Indigenous people have rights and interests to their land that come from their traditional laws and customs.

The native title rights and interests held by particular Indigenous people will depend on both their traditional laws and customs and what interests are held by others in the area concerned. Generally speaking, native title must give way to the rights held by others. The capacity of Australian law to recognise the rights and interests held under traditional law and custom will also be a factor.

Native title rights and interests may include rights to:

  • Live on the area;
  • Access the area for traditional purposes, like camping or to do ceremonies;
  • Visit and protect important places and sites;
  • Hunt, fish and gather food or traditional resources like water, wood and ochre; and
  • Teach law and custom on country.

In some cases, native title includes the right to possess and occupy an area to the exclusion of all others (often called ‘exclusive possession’). This includes the right to control access to, and use of, the area concerned. However, this right can only be recognised over certain parts of Australia, such as unallocated or vacant Crown land and some areas already held by, or for, Indigenous people.

Native title rights and interests differ from Indigenous land rights in that the source of land rights is a grant of title from government. The source of native title rights and interests is the system of traditional laws and customs of the native title holders themselves.

For information or queries, please contact the National Native Title Tribunal at: enquiries@nntt.gov.au.

Submarine telecommunication cables carry the bulk of Australia’s international voice and data traffic and are a vital component of our national infrastructure linking Australia with other countries. Submarine cables are vulnerable to damage and breakage, which can have serious consequences for the flow of information to and from Australia.

The Department of Communications has responsibility for Schedule 3A of the Telecommunications Act 1997, which is administered by the Australian Communications Media Authority.

The Telecommunications Act 1997 provides for submarine cable protection zones to be declared around international submarine cables that are considered to be of national significance. Certain activities, including exploring for resources and mining, are prohibited or restricted in protection zones. There are currently three protection zones: the North and South Sydney Protection Zones and the Perth Protection Zone.

The 2015 Release Areas do not appear to be in the vicinity of existing protection zones. However, the protection zone regime does not cover domestic cables or all international cables. Potential bidders are therefore urged to contact submarine cable providers early in their planning processes to ensure they do not inadvertently damage telecommunications cables.

Particular attention should be paid to the JASURAUS cable, operated by Telstra, which connects Port Hedland and Indonesia. The relevant contact for the JASURAUS cable is:

Telstra

Mr Michael Costin

Telephone: (02) 8576 9111

Email: michael.b.costin@team.telstra.com.au

 

Explorers should also note the following submarine cable projects:

Under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006, successful applicants are required to have sufficient financial assurance to meet costs, expenses and liabilities associated with undertaking a petroleum activity. Titleholders must declare to NOPSEMA that they have sufficient financial assurance to carry out the activity and submit a financial assurance confirmation at the time of making their Environment Plan submission. For further information, please refer to: http://www.nopsema.gov.au/assets/Guidelines/GL1381-Financial-assurance-for-petroleum-titles-Rev-4-March-2015.pdf

Any further notices and related issues identified by the Australian Government will be advised in the Australian Petroleum News, a free occasional newsletter produced by the Department of Industry and Science. Stakeholders are encouraged to register to receive this newsletter by emailing: petroleum.exploration@industry.gov.au.

The mailing list is not used for any purposes other than disseminating the Australian Petroleum News and notifying registered parties of associated petroleum issues. There is no charge for this service.

Notices for specific areas

Defence

Release Area NT15-2 and adjacent W15-1 lie within Restricted Airspace R264 in the Northern Australian Exercise Area (NAXA), inside the extreme south-western radial areas of R264G and R264K.

Release Area NT15-1 area lies within Restricted Airspace R264 in the NAXA, specifically it lies within the extreme north-western radial areas and also compromises Defence Practice Area (DPA) R25. This area significantly overlays Restricted Airspace R264C, R264D and the north-western section of DPA R225.

When activated by a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), the restricted airspace can operate down to sea level. Successful applicants will need to liaise with Defence during the planning phase of operations, and to provide information on the proposed location of any drilling rigs for inclusion in the register of structures database that is maintained by the RAAF Aeronautical Information Service (AIS).

Successful applicants should also note that, as the areas are used for live firings, unexploded Ordnance (UXO) may exist on the sea floor. This carries with it an associated risk of detonation, which will be borne by the applicants. Applicants should recognise that Defence takes no responsibility for reporting the location and type of ordnance dropped in the areas, for identification or removal of any UXO, or for any damage sustained to equipment in the unlikely event of UXO detonation. As a consequence, the Australian Government provides no guarantee or indemnity to title holders or others with regard to the safety or whereabouts of unexploded ordnance in such areas.

Successful applicants will need to liaise closely with the RAAF and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) on timing and location of any proposed exploration activities or permanent structures during the planning phase.

Access to a DPA and a Military Exercise Area (MEA) may be restricted with all sea and aircraft possibly being ordered to evacuate the DPA or the MEA at short notice.

The point of contact for Defence activities is set out above under ‘Notices for All Areas’.

Commonwealth Marine Reserves

Release Area NT15-1 is approximately 90km from Joseph Bonaparte Gulf Commonwealth Marine Reserve and approximately 30km from Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve. Areas NT15-2 and W15-1 overlap the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf Commonwealth Marine Reserve.

The Joseph Bonaparte Gulf Commonwealth Marine Reserve includes a Multiple Use zone (IUCN Category VI) and Special Purpose zone (IUCN Category VI). Mining operations are allowed under the General Approval –Transitional Management Arrangements, for the North Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. Approval requirements may change once management plans come into effect. The major conservation values of the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf Commonwealth Marine Reserve include:

  • Important foraging areas for the migratory Australian snubfin dolphin (Orcaella heinsohni), the endangered and migratory olive ridley turtle and vulnerable and migratory green turtle;
  • Examples of the shallow water ecosystems and communities of the Northwest Shelf Transition Province; and
  • One key ecological feature is represented in this reserve: carbonate banks of the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf. The values of this feature include enhanced productivity, high biodiversity, and unique seafloor features.

The Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve is a Multiple Use zone (IUCN Category VI). Mining operations are allowed under the General Approval – Transitional Management Arrangements, for the North Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. Approval requirements may change once management plans come into effect.

The major conservation values of the Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve include:

  • Important inter-nesting area for the vulnerable and migratory flatback (Natator depressus) and endangered and migratory olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) turtles;
  • Important foraging area for the endangered and migratory olive ridley and loggerhead (Caretta caretta) turtles;
  • Examples of the ecosystems of the Northwest Shelf Transition Province and the Timor Transition Province; and
  • Four key ecological features are represented in this reserve: Carbonate Bank and Terrace System of the Van Diemen Rise; Carbonate Bank and Terrace System of the Sahul Shelf; Pinnacles of the Bonaparte Basin; and Shelf break and slope of the Arafura Shelf. The values of these features include enhanced productivity and unique sea-floor features with ecological properties of regional significance.

Further information about this and other Commonwealth marine reserves is located at: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-reserves

Navigation Safety

Release Area NT15-1 may encounter some commercial shipping and local traffic as they enter and exit the Port of Darwin.

More information on historical shipping traffic data can be found on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority website https://www.operations.amsa.gov.au/Spatial/

Fishing Activities

Release Areas NT15-1, NT15-2 and W15-1 are within the Northern Prawn Fishery, Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery, Western Skipjack Tuna Fishery and Southern Bluefin Tuna Fisheries ranges.

Historical AFMA logbook data for 2009 to 2014 indicates that the Northern Prawn Fishery has been very active in these areas. It would be preferable if any petroleum exploration activities could be conducted outside the Northern Prawn Fishery seasons. The Northern Prawn Fishery seasons are generally from April to June and August to December. Additional information on the distribution of fishing effort in the Northern Prawn Fishery can be found in the NPF Data Summary 2013 at: http://www.afma.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Data-Summary-2013.pdf

As fishing activity may vary from year to year, AFMA recommends successful applicants liaise with representatives of the above fishing interests at an early stage in planning operational activities.

Australia-Indonesia Maritime Boundaries

To a large extent, Release Area W15-2 lies in an area where Indonesia’s water column jurisdiction overlaps with Australia’s seabed jurisdiction under the 1972 Seabed Agreement (in force) and the 1997 Perth Treaty (signed but not ratified).

The Australian Government, through the Department of Industry and Science and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will notify Indonesia three months prior to the proposed grant of exploration or exploitation rights in an area of overlapping jurisdiction.

Please see the General Notices, International Treaties section for more information.

Commonwealth Marine Reserves

Release area W15-2 overlaps with Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve. The Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve is a multiple use zone (IUCN Category VI). Mining operations are allowed under the General Approval – Transitional Management Arrangements, for the North Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. Approval requirements may change once management plans come into effect.

The major conservation values of the Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve include:

  • Important inter-nesting area for the vulnerable and migratory flatback (Natator depressus) and endangered and migratory olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) turtles;
  • Important foraging area for the endangered and migratory olive ridley and loggerhead (Caretta caretta) turtles;
  • Examples of the ecosystems of the Northwest Shelf Transition Province and the Timor Transition Province; and
  • Four key ecological features are represented in this reserve: Carbonate Bank and Terrace System of the Van Diemen Rise; Carbonate Bank and Terrace System of the Sahul Shelf; Pinnacles of the Bonaparte Basin; and Shelf break and slope of the Arafura Shelf. The values of these features include enhanced productivity and unique sea-floor features with ecological properties of regional significance.

Further information about this and other Commonwealth marine reserves is located at: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-reserves

Fishing Activities

Release Area W15-2 is within the Northern Prawn Fishery, Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery, Western Skipjack Tuna Fishery and Southern Bluefin Tuna Fisheries ranges.

Historical AFMA logbook data for 2009 to 2014 indicates that the Northern Prawn Fishery has been very active in these areas. It would be preferable if any petroleum exploration activities could be conducted outside the Northern Prawn Fishery seasons. The Northern Prawn Fishery seasons are generally from April to June and August to December. Additional information on the distribution of fishing effort in the Northern Prawn Fishery can be found in the NPF Data Summary 2013 at: http://www.afma.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Data-Summary-2013.pdf

As fishing activity may vary from year to year, AFMA recommends successful applicants liaise with representatives of the above fishing interests at an early stage in planning operational activities.

Australia-Indonesia Maritime Boundaries

To a large extent, Release Area AC15-1 lies in an area where Indonesia’s water column jurisdiction overlaps with Australia’s seabed jurisdiction under the 1972 Seabed Agreement (in-force) and the 1997 Perth Treaty (signed but not ratified).

The Australian Government, through the Department of Industry and Science and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will notify Indonesia three months prior to the proposed grant of exploration or exploitation rights in an area of overlapping jurisdiction.

Please see the General Notices, International Treaties section for more information.

Commonwealth Marine Reserves

Release area AC15-2 is approximately 70km from Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve. The Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve is a multiple use zone (IUCN Category VI). Mining operations are allowed under the General Approval – Transitional Management Arrangements, for the North Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. Approval requirements may change once management plans come into effect.

The major conservation values of the Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve include:

  • Important inter-nesting area for the vulnerable and migratory flatback (Natator depressus) and endangered and migratory olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) turtles;
  • Important foraging area for the endangered and migratory olive ridley and loggerhead (Caretta caretta) turtles;
  • Examples of the ecosystems of the Northwest Shelf Transition Province and the Timor Transition Province; and
  • Four key ecological features are represented in this reserve: Carbonate Bank and Terrace System of the Van Diemen Rise; Carbonate Bank and Terrace System of the Sahul Shelf; Pinnacles of the Bonaparte Basin; and Shelf break and slope of the Arafura Shelf. The values of these features include enhanced productivity and unique sea-floor features with ecological properties of regional significance.

Release Area AC15-1 is not within 100 km of any Commonwealth marine reserve. However, applicants should note that Commonwealth marine reserves in the larger vicinity may also be impacted by petroleum industry activities.

Further information about this and other Commonwealth marine reserves is located at: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-reserves

Navigation Safety

Release Area AC15-2 may encounter some local traffic.

More information on historical shipping traffic data can be found on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority website https://www.operations.amsa.gov.au/Spatial/

Fishing Activities

Release areas AC15-1 and AC15-2 are within the North West Slope Trawl Fishery, Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery, Western Skipjack Tuna Fishery and Southern Bluefin Tuna Fisheries ranges.

Historical AFMA logbook data for 2009 to 2014 indicates that the North West Slope Trawl Fishery has been active in these areas. Additional information on the distribution of fishing effort in the Northwest Slope Trawl Fishery can be found in the Department of Agriculture Fishery Status Reports 2012 and in the North West Slope Fishery Harvest Strategy Review 2011: http://data.daff.gov.au/data/warehouse/9aam/fsrXXd9abm_/fsr12d9abm_00220131029/01_FishStatus2012Start_1.00.pdf

http://www.afma.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/WDTF-and-NWSTF-harvest-strategy-review-2011.pdf

As fishing activity may vary from year to year, AFMA recommends successful applicants liaise with representatives of the above fishing interests at an early stage in planning operational activities.

Commonwealth Marine Reserves

Release Area AC15-3 is located approximately 40 km from the Cartier Island Commonwealth Marine Reserve and 60km from the Ashmore Reef Commonwealth Marine Reserve.

The Cartier Island Commonwealth Marine Reserve is a Sanctuary zone (IUCN Category Ia). The Ashmore Reef Commonwealth Marine Reserve includes a Sanctuary zone (IUCN Category Ia) and a Recreational Use zone (IUCN Category II). Release Area AC15-3 is in close proximity to the sanctuary zones. Mining operations (including oil and gas exploration, development and other activities) are not permitted in sanctuary zones.

The values of the Ashmore Reef Marine Commonwealth Reserve and/or Cartier Island Commonwealth Marine Reserve include:

  • International significance for abundance and diversity of sea snakes;
  • Critical nesting and inter-nesting habitat for the vulnerable and migratory green turtle (Chelonia mydas), supporting one of three genetically distinct breeding populations in the North-west Marine Region;
  • Large and significant feeding populations of the green and hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the endangered and migratory loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta);
  • Supports a small migratory Dugong (Dugong dugon) population that breeds and feeds around the reef, a population that is thought to be genetically distinct from other Australian populations;
  • Some of the most important seabird rookeries on the North West Shelf including colonies of boobies, terns and egrets;
  • Important staging points/feeding areas for many migratory seabirds;
  • Ecosystems, habitats and communities associated with the North West Shelf, Timor Province and emergent oceanic reefs; and
  • One key ecological feature is represented in these reserves: Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island and surrounding Commonwealth waters. The values of this feature include enhanced productivity and aggregations of marine life.

Further information about these and other Commonwealth marine reserves is located at: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-reserves

Indonesian Traditional Fishing in the ‘Mou Box’

Release Area AC15-3 is located in an area known as the ‘MoU Box’ where traditional Indonesian fishing activity currently is permitted. More information can be found in the General Notices, International Treaties section.

Fishing Activities

Release area AC15-3 is within the North West Slope Trawl Fishery, Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery, Western Skipjack Tuna Fishery and Southern Bluefin Tuna Fisheries ranges.

Historical AFMA logbook data for 2009 to 2014 indicates that the North West Slope Trawl Fishery has been active in these areas. Additional information on the distribution of fishing effort in the Northwest Slope Trawl Fishery can be found in the Department of Agriculture Fishery Status Reports 2012 and in the North West Slope Fishery Harvest Strategy Review 2011: http://data.daff.gov.au/data/warehouse/9aam/fsrXXd9abm_/fsr12d9abm_00220131029/01_FishStatus2012Start_1.00.pdf

http://www.afma.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/WDTF-and-NWSTF-harvest-strategy-review-2011.pdf

As fishing activity may vary from year to year, AFMA recommends successful applicants liaise with representatives of the above fishing interests at an early stage in planning operational activities.

Commonwealth Marine Reserves

Release Areas W15-3 and W15-4 are respectively (approximately) 50km and 70 km from the Kimberley Commonwealth Marine Reserve.

The Kimberley Commonwealth Marine Reserve includes a Multiple Use zone (IUCN Category VI), a Habitat Protection zone (IUCN Category IV) and a Marine National Park zone (IUCN Category II). Mining operations are allowed under the General Approval – Transitional Management Arrangements, for new reserves in the North-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. Approval requirements may change once management plans come into effect.

The major conservation values of the Kimberley Commonwealth Marine Reserve include:

  • Important foraging areas for migratory seabirds and dugongs (Dugong dugon), dolphins and threatened and migratory marine turtles;
  • Important migration pathway and nursery areas for the vulnerable and migratory humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae);
  • Adjacent to important foraging and pupping areas for sawfish and important nesting sites for green (Chelonia mydas) turtle;
  • Protection for the communities and habitats of waters offshore of the Kimberley coastline ranging in depth from less than 15 m to 800 m;
  • Continental shelf, slope, plateau, pinnacle, terrace, banks and shoals and deep hole/valley seafloor features represented in this reserve;
  • Examples of the communities and seafloor habitats of the Northwest Shelf Transition Province and Timor Province provincial bioregions along with the Kimberley, Canning, Northwest Shelf and Oceanic Shoals meso-scale bioregions; and
  • Two key ecological features are represented in this reserve: the ancient coastline at 125 m depth contour and the Continental Slope Demersal Fish Communities. The values of these features include a unique seafloor feature with ecological properties of regional significance, and high levels of endemism.

Further information about this and other Commonwealth marine reserves is located at: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-reserves

Indonesian Traditional Fishing in the ‘Mou Box’

Release Areas W15-3 and W15-4 are located in an area known as the ‘MoU Box’ where traditional Indonesian activity currently is permitted. More information can be found in the General Notices, International Treaties section.

Fishing Activities

Release areas W15-3 and W15-4 are within the North West Slope Trawl Fishery, Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery, Western Skipjack Tuna Fishery and Southern Bluefin Tuna Fisheries ranges.

Historical AFMA logbook data for 2009 to 2014 indicates that the North West Slope Trawl Fishery has been active in these areas. Additional information on the distribution of fishing effort in the Northwest Slope Trawl Fishery can be found in the Department of Agriculture Fishery Status Reports 2012 and in the North West Slope Fishery Harvest Strategy Review 2011: http://data.daff.gov.au/data/warehouse/9aam/fsrXXd9abm_/fsr12d9abm_00220131029/01_FishStatus2012Start_1.00.pdf

http://www.afma.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/WDTF-and-NWSTF-harvest-strategy-review-2011.pdf

As fishing activity may vary from year to year, AFMA recommends successful applicants liaise with representatives of the above fishing interests at an early stage in planning operational activities.

Commonwealth Marine Reserves

Release area W15-18 overlaps with the multiple use zone portion of the Kimberley Commonwealth Marine Reserve. The Kimberley Commonwealth Marine Reserve includes a Multiple Use zone (IUCN Category VI), a Habitat Protection zone (IUCN Category IV) and a Marine National Park zone (IUCN Category II). Mining operations are allowed under the General Approval – Transitional Management Arrangements, for new reserves in the North-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. Approval requirements may change once management plans come into effect.

The major conservation values of the Kimberley Commonwealth Marine Reserve include:

  • Important foraging areas for migratory seabirds and dugongs (Dugong dugon), dolphins and threatened and migratory marine turtles;
  • Important migration pathway and nursery areas for the vulnerable and migratory humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae);
  • Adjacent to important foraging and pupping areas for sawfish and important nesting sites for green (Chelonia mydas) turtle;
  • Protection for the communities and habitats of waters offshore of the Kimberley coastline ranging in depth from less than 15 m to 800 m;
  • Continental shelf, slope, plateau, pinnacle, terrace, banks and shoals and deep hole/valley seafloor features represented in this reserve;
  • Examples of the communities and seafloor habitats of the Northwest Shelf Transition Province and Timor Province provincial bioregions along with the Kimberley, Canning, Northwest Shelf and Oceanic Shoals meso-scale bioregions; and
  • Two key ecological features are represented in this reserve: the ancient coastline at 125 m depth contour and the Continental Slope Demersal Fish Communities. The values of these features include a unique seafloor feature with ecological properties of regional significance, and high levels of endemism.

Further information about this and other Commonwealth marine reserves is located at: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-reserves

Marine Species

The W15-18 area is within or adjacent to areas that have been identified as important for a number of listed threatened migratory and marine species. In particular, the northern river shark, large-toothed sawfish and dwarf sawfish may utilise the area; sea-snakes (including 2 critically endangered species) may be found in the Kimberley offshore waters; and whale sharks may pass through there as part of their migratory pathway when travelling between Ningaloo Reef and Christmas Island/Indonesia. More information on marine species can be found on the Department of the Environment website - http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity

Fishing Activities

Release area W15-18 is within the North West Slope Trawl Fishery. Historical AFMA logbook data for 2009-2014 indicates that the North West Slope Trawl Fishery has been active in this area. Additional information on the distribution of fishing effort in the Northwest Slop Trawl Fishery can be found in the Department of Agriculture Fishery Status Report 2013-14 and in the North West Slope Fishery Harvest Strategy Review 2011:

http://www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/publications/display?url=http://143.188.17.20/anrdl/DAFFService/display.php?fid=pb_fsr14d9abm_20141023_11a.xml

http://www.afma.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/WDTF-and-NWSTF-harvest-strategy-review-2011.pdf

This area is close to the zone that is fished by Indonesian traditional fishers under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Indonesia. Traditional fishers can be found in any part of the delineated MoU Box. Traditional vessels are only sail powered and therefore unable to readily take evasive action to avoid collision. Some vessels have been fitted with navigational lights, VHF radios and radar reflectors however it is unknown how reliably the equipment is maintained and used. Other vessels may not have any equipment at all. The hulls of the boats are timber and present poor radar targets if they do not carry a reflector. While peak activity for fishers is outside of the cyclone season some fishing is done throughout the year. AFMA recommends caution when operating in this area.

As fishing activity may vary from year to year, AFMA recommends successful applicants liaise with AFMA’s MoU Box Manager (jim.prescott@afma.gov.au) for updated information.

Submarine Cables

Release Area W15-18 is in the general vicinity of the proposed route for the Nextgen Networks Pty Ltd North-West Cable System submarine cable between Port Headland and Darwin. The project is scheduled for completion in the first half of 2016 - http://nextgengroup.com.au/north-west-cable-system

It is recommended that potential explorers contact submarine cable providers early in the planning processes to prevent inadvertent damage to telecommunications cables.

Commonwealth Marine Reserves

Release Area W15-5 has a small overlap with the Argo-Rowley Commonwealth Marine Reserve. The Argo-Rowley Terrace Commonwealth Marine Reserve includes a Multiple Use zone (IUCN Category VI) and Marine National Park zone (IUCN Category II). Mining operations are allowed under the General Approval – Transitional Management Arrangements, for new reserves in the North-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. Approval requirements may change once management plans come into effect.

The major conservation values of the Argo-Rowley Terrace Commonwealth Marine Reserve include:

  • Important foraging areas for migratory seabirds and the endangered loggerhead turtle;
  • Important area for sharks, which are found in abundance around the Rowley Shoals relative to other areas in the region;
  • Providing protection for the communities and habitats of the deeper offshore waters of the region in depth ranges from 220 metres to over 5000 metres;
  • Providing protection for many seafloor features including aprons and fans, canyons, continental rise, knolls/abyssal hills and the terrace and continental slope;
  • Examples of the communities and seafloor habitats of the Northwest Transition and Timor Province provincial bioregions;
  • Providing connectivity between the existing Mermaid Reef Marine National Nature Reserve and reefs of the Western Australian Rowley Shoals Marine Park and the deeper waters of the region; and
  • Two key ecological features are included in the reserve: canyons linking the Argo Abyssal Plain with Scott Plateau; and Commonwealth waters surrounding Rowley Shoals. The values of these features include enhanced productivity, aggregations of marine life and unique seafloor features.

Further information about these and other Commonwealth Marine Reserves is located at: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-reserves

Navigation Safety

Two charted shipping fairways intersect with Release Area W15-5. High volumes of large bulk shipping traffic traverse this release area. Additional navigational safety conditions may be required while conducting exploration activities in this area. Close liaison with the relevant port is recommended.

More information on historical shipping traffic data can be found on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority website https://www.operations.amsa.gov.au/Spatial/

For exploration drilling, including the use of Mobile Offshore Drilling Units, titleholders should take all possible and practicable action to avoid any stationary/dynamic positioning drilling activities, including the related drilling exclusion zones, within a chartered Shipping Fairway.

Fishing Activities

Release area W15-5 is within the North West Slope Trawl Fishery, Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery, Western Skipjack Tuna Fishery and Southern Bluefin Tuna Fisheries ranges.

Historical AFMA logbook data for 2009 to 2014 indicates that the North West Slope Trawl Fishery has been very active in these areas. Additional information on the distribution of fishing effort in the Northwest Slope Trawl Fishery can be found in the Department of Agriculture Fishery Status Reports 2012 and in the North West Slope Fishery Harvest Strategy Review 2011: http://data.daff.gov.au/data/warehouse/9aam/fsrXXd9abm_/fsr12d9abm_00220131029/01_FishStatus2012Start_1.00.pdf

http://www.afma.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/WDTF-and-NWSTF-harvest-strategy-review-2011.pdf

As fishing activity may vary from year to year, AFMA recommends successful applicants liaise with representatives of the above fishing interests at an early stage in planning operational activities.

Commonwealth Marine Reserves

Release Area W15-6 is approximately 100km from the Montebello Commonwealth Marine Reserve; W15-7 is approximately 50km from Dampier Commonwealth Marine Reserve; W15-8 is approximately 20km from Dampier Commonwealth Marine Reserve; W15-9 is approximately 50km from Montebello Commonwealth Marine Reserve; W15-10 is approximately 20km from the Montebello Commonwealth Marine Reserve; W15-11 is approximately 22km from Montebello Commonwealth Marine Reserve; and W15-12 abuts the Montebello Commonwealth Marine Reserve.

The Dampier Commonwealth Marine Reserve includes a Marine National Park zone (IUCN Category II) and a Habitat Protection zone (IUCN Category IV). Mining operations are allowed under the General Approval – Transitional Management Arrangements, for new reserves in the North-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. Approval requirements may change once management plans come into effect.

The major conservation values of the Dampier Commonwealth Marine Reserve include:

  • Foraging areas adjacent to important breeding areas for migratory seabirds;
  • Foraging areas adjacent to important nesting sites for marine turtles;
  • Part of the migratory pathway of the protected humpback whale;
  • Providing a high level of protection for offshore shelf habitats adjacent to the Dampier Archipelago;
  • Providing high level protection for the shallow shelf with depths ranging from 15 metres to 70 metres; and
  • Examples of the communities and seafloor habitats of the Northwest Shelf Province provincial bioregion as well as the Pilbara (nearshore) and Pilbara (offshore) meso-scale bioregions.

The Montebello Commonwealth Marine Reserve is a Multiple Use zone (IUCN Category VI). Mining operations are allowed under the General Approval – Transitional Management Arrangements, for new reserves in the North-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. Approval requirements may change once management plans come into effect.

The major conservation values of the Montebello Commonwealth Marine Reserve include:

  • Foraging areas for the vulnerable and migratory whale shark (Rhincodon typus);
  • Foraging areas adjacent to important breeding areas for migratory seabirds and important nesting sites for marine turtles;
  • Part of the migratory pathway of the vulnerable and migratory humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae);
  • Shallow shelf environments with depths ranging from 15 m to 150 m and provides protection for shelf and slope habitats, as well as pinnacle and terrace seafloor features;
  • Examples of the seafloor habitats and communities of the Northwest Shelf Province;
  • Wreck of the ‘Trial’ heritage feature;
  • Provincial bioregions as well as the Pilbara (offshore) meso-scale bioregion; and
  • One key ecological feature is represented in this reserve., the ancient coastline. The value of this feature includes enhanced productivity associated with a unique seafloor feature.

Further information about these and other Commonwealth Marine Reserves is located at: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-reserves

Navigation Safety

A charted shipping fairway carrying high volumes of traffic traverses Release Area W15-6.

Heavy commercial traffic entering and exiting the port of Dampier may be encountered in Release Area W15-8. Two charted shipping fairways traverse this area in the south eastern sections. This area is close to the Port of Dampier, liaison with the Port Authority is recommended.

Release area W15-9 may encounter commercial and local traffic travelling to and from the Port of Dampier.

Commercial shipping and local traffic travelling in and out of the Port of Dampier may cross through Release Areas W15-10 and W15-11.

The cautionary area around floating production, storage and offloading facility, Dampier Spirit, and Stag central production facility intersects with the southern section of Release Area W15-11.

A charted shipping fairway intersects with the south eastern section of Release Area W15-12.

For exploration drilling, including the use of Mobile Offshore Drilling Units, titleholders should take all possible and practicable action to avoid any stationary/dynamic positioning drilling activities, including the related drilling exclusion zones, within a chartered Shipping Fairway.

More information on historical shipping traffic data can be found on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority website https://www.operations.amsa.gov.au/Spatial/

Fishing Activities

Release areas W15-6, W15-7, W15-8, W15-9, W15-10, W15-11 and W15-12 are within the North West Slope Trawl Fishery, Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery, Western Skipjack Tuna Fishery and Southern Bluefin Tuna Fisheries ranges.

Historical AFMA logbook data for 2009 to 2014 indicates that the North West Slope Trawl Fishery has been very active in these areas. Additional information on the distribution of fishing effort in the Northwest Slope Trawl Fishery can be found in the Department of Agriculture Fishery Status Reports 2012 and in the North West Slope Fishery Harvest Strategy Review 2011: http://data.daff.gov.au/data/warehouse/9aam/fsrXXd9abm_/fsr12d9abm_00220131029/01_FishStatus2012Start_1.00.pdf

http://www.afma.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/WDTF-and-NWSTF-harvest-strategy-review-2011.pdf

As fishing activity may vary from year to year, AFMA recommends successful applicants liaise with representatives of the above fishing interests at an early stage in planning operational activities.

Defence

Areas W15-16 and W15-17 have a small overlay with the Learmonth Air Weapons Range in the North West Australian Exercise Area (NWXA) and cover portions of Restricted Airspace R853A/B and R862A/B.

Successful applicants will need to liaise closely with the RAAF on timing and location of any proposed exploration activities or permanent structures during the planning phase.

The point of contact for Defence activities is set out above under ‘Notices for All Areas’.

Commonwealth Marine Reserves

Release Area W15-13 is approximately 8km from the Montebello Commonwealth Marine Reserve; W15-14 is approximately 60km from the Montebello Commonwealth Marine Reserve; W15-16 is approximately 90km from the Montebello Commonwealth Marine Reserve and the Gascoyne Commonwealth Marine Reserve, and W15-17 is approximately 80km from the Gascoyne Commonwealth Marine Reserve.

The Montebello Commonwealth Marine Reserve is a Multiple Use zone (IUCN Category VI). Mining operations are allowed under the General Approval – Transitional Management Arrangements, for new reserves in the North-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. Approval requirements may change once management plans come into effect.

The major conservation values of the Montebello Commonwealth Marine Reserve include:

  • Foraging areas for the vulnerable and migratory whale shark (Rhincodon typus);
  • Foraging areas adjacent to important breeding areas for migratory seabirds and important nesting sites for marine turtles;
  • Part of the migratory pathway of the vulnerable and migratory humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae);
  • Shallow shelf environments with depths ranging from 15 m to 150 m and provides protection for shelf and slope habitats, as well as pinnacle and terrace seafloor features;
  • Examples of the seafloor habitats and communities of the Northwest Shelf Province;
  • Wreck of the ‘Trial’ heritage feature;
  • Provincial bioregions as well as the Pilbara (offshore) meso-scale bioregion; and
  • One key ecological feature is represented in this reserve: the ancient coastline. The value of this feature includes enhanced productivity associated with a unique seafloor feature.

The Gascoyne Commonwealth Marine Reserve includes a Multiple Use zone (IUCN Category VI), a Habitat Protection zone (IUCN Category IV) and a Marine National Park zone (IUCN Category II). Mining operations are allowed under the General Approval – Transitional Management Arrangements, for new reserves in the North-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. Approval requirements may change once management plans come into effect.

The major conservation values of the Gascoyne Commonwealth Marine Reserve include:

  • Important foraging areas for migratory seabirds, the vulnerable and migratory whale shark (Rhincodon typus) and vulnerable and migratory hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and flatback (Natator depressus) turtles;
  • Examples of the ecosystems of the Central Western Shelf Transition, the Central Western Transition, the Northwest Province and the Ningaloo meso-scale bioregion; and
  • Three key ecological features are represented in this reserve: canyons on the slope between Cuvier Abyssal Plain and the Cape Range Peninsula; Exmouth Plateau; and continental slope demersal fish communities. The values of these features include enhanced productivity, aggregations of marine life, unique seafloor features and high biodiversity.

Further information about this and other Commonwealth marine reserves is located at: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-reserves

Navigation Safety

The north west section of Release Area W15-14 has limited overlap with a chartered shipping fairway. Commercial shipping traffic may be encountered in and around this release area.

More information on historical shipping traffic data can be found on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority website https://www.operations.amsa.gov.au/Spatial/

For exploration drilling, including the use of Mobile Offshore Drilling Units, titleholders should take all possible and practicable action to avoid any stationary/dynamic positioning drilling activities, including the related drilling exclusion zones, within a chartered Shipping Fairway.

Fishing Activities

Release areas W15-13, W15-14, W15-16 are within the North West Slope Trawl Fishery, Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery, Western Skipjack Tuna Fishery and Southern Bluefin Tuna Fisheries ranges.

Historical AFMA logbook data for 2009 to 2014 indicates that the North West Slope Trawl Fishery has been very active in these areas. Additional information on the distribution of fishing effort in the Northwest Slope Trawl Fishery can be found in the Department of Agriculture Fishery Status Reports 2012 and in the North West Slope Fishery Harvest Strategy Review 2011: http://data.daff.gov.au/data/warehouse/9aam/fsrXXd9abm_/fsr12d9abm_00220131029/01_FishStatus2012Start_1.00.pdf

http://www.afma.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/WDTF-and-NWSTF-harvest-strategy-review-2011.pdf

Release area W15-17 is within the Western Deepwater Trawl Fishery, Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery, Western Skipjack Tuna Fishery, and Southern Bluefin Tuna Fisheries’ ranges.

Historical AFMA logbook data for 2009 to 2014 indicates that the Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery has been active in the release area. Additional information on the distribution of fishing effort in the Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery can be found in the Department of Agriculture Fishery Status Reports 2012:

http://data.daff.gov.au/data/warehouse/9aam/fsrXXd9abm_/fsr12d9abm_00220131029/01_FishStatus2012Start_1.00.pdf

As fishing activity may vary from year to year, AFMA recommends successful applicants liaise with representatives of the above fishing interests at an early stage in planning operational activities.

Commonwealth Marine Reserves

Release Area S15-1 overlaps the Western Eyre Commonwealth Marine Reserve.

The area of overlap of the Western Eyre Commonwealth Marine Reserve includes a Multiple Use zone (IUCN Category VI) and a Special Purpose zone (IUCN Category VI). Mining operations (including oil and gas exploration, development and other activities) are allowed under the General Approval - transitional management arrangements for the South-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. Approval requirements may change once management plans come into effect. The Western Eyre Commonwealth Marine Reserve also includes a Marine National Park zone (IUCN Category II), however, this zone is not within the area of overlap for S15-1.

The major conservation values of the Western Eyre Commonwealth Marine Reserve include:

  • Important foraging areas for the threatened Australian sea lion (Neophoca cinerea), white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) and blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus);
  • Important foraging areas for the migratory sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), short-tailed shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris) and Caspian tern (Hydroprogne caspia);
  • Important seasonal calving habitat for the threatened southern right whale (Eubalaena australis);
  • Representative examples of the westernmost ecosystems of the Spencer Gulf Shelf Province (including the Eyre meso-scale bioregion) and the easternmost ecosystems of the Great Australian Bight Shelf Transition (including the Murat meso-scale bioregion);
  • Representative examples of the easternmost ecosystems of the Southern Province;
  • Meso-scale eddies (high productivity and feeding aggregations);
  • Benthic invertebrate communities of the eastern Great Australian Bight (communities with high species diversity);
  • Pelagic habitats important for small pelagic fish (species group with an important ecological role); and
  • Two key ecological features are represented in this reserve: the Ancient coastline 90 - 120 m. The values of this feature include high levels of biodiversity, endemism, productivity and aggregations of marine life; and the Kangaroo Island Pool, canyons and adjacent shelf break, and Eyre Peninsula upwelling. The values of this feature include high productivity, breeding and feeding aggregations.

Further information about this and other Commonwealth marine reserves in the larger proximity is located at: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-reserves

Navigation Safety

Significant national and international commercial shipping traffic passes through Release Area S15-1.

More information on historical shipping traffic data can be found on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority website https://www.operations.amsa.gov.au/Spatial/

Fishing Activities

Release Area S15-1 is within the South Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery, Small Pelagic Fishery, Southern Squid Jig Fishery, Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery, Skipjack Tuna Fishery, and Southern Bluefin Tuna Fisheries’ ranges.

Historical AFMA logbook data for 2009 to 2014 indicates that the Southern Bluefin Tuna Fishery (SBT), Small Pelagic Fishery (SPF), the Gillnet, Hook and Trap Sector (GHAT) and the Great Australian Bight Trawl Sector (GABTF) of the South Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery have been very active in the release area. Additional information on the distribution of fishing effort in the SBT, SPF, GABTF and GHAT can be found in the Department of Agriculture Fishery Status Reports 2012:

http://data.daff.gov.au/data/warehouse/9aam/fsrXXd9abm_/fsr12d9abm_00220131029/01_FishStatus2012Start_1.00.pdf:

As fishing activity may vary from year to year, AFMA recommends successful applicants liaise with representatives of the above fishing interests at an early stage in planning operational activities.

Commonwealth Marine Reserves

Release Area V15-1 is approximately 50km from the Nelson Commonwealth Marine Reserve. Release Area T15-1 is approximately 30km from the Zeehan Commonwealth Marine Reserve and 80km from the Apollo Commonwealth Marine Reserve. Release Area T15-2 overlaps the Zeehan Commonwealth Marine Reserve and is approximately 70km from the Apollo Commonwealth Marine Reserve.

Nelson Commonwealth Marine Reserve is a Special Purpose zone (IUCN Category VI). Mining operations (including oil and gas exploration, development and other activities) are allowed under the Class Approval – Mining for the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. The major conservation values of the Nelson Commonwealth Marine Reserve include:

  • Examples of ecosystems, habitats and communities associated with the West Tasmanian Transition and associated with sea-floor features: abyssal plain/deep ocean floor, canyon, knoll/abyssal hill, plateau and slope; and
  • Important migration area for humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), and likely migration for blue (Balaenoptera musculus), fin (Balaenoptera physalus) and sei (Balaenoptera borealis) whales.

Zeehan Commonwealth Marine Reserve comprises a Special Purpose zone (IUCN Category VI) and a Multiple Use zone (IUCN Category VI). Mining operations (including oil and gas exploration, development and other activities) are allowed under the Class Approval – Mining for the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. The major conservation values of the Zeehan Commonwealth Marine Reserve include:

  • Examples of ecosystems, habitats and communities associated with the Tasmania Province, the West Tasmania Transition the Western Bass Strait Shelf Transition and associated with sea-floor features: abyssal plain/deep ocean floor, canyon, deep/hole/valley, knoll/abyssal hill, shelf and slope;
  • Important migration area for blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae);
  • Important foraging areas for black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophrys), wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans), shy albatross (Thalassarche cauta), great-winged petrel (Pterodroma macroptera) and cape petrel (Daption capense); and
  • One key ecological feature is represented in this reserve: the West Tasmania Canyons.

Apollo Commonwealth Marine Reserve is a Multiple Use zone (IUCN Category VI). Mining operations (including oil and gas exploration, development and other activities) are allowed under the Class Approval – Mining for the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. The major conservation values of the Apollo Commonwealth Marine Reserve include:

  • Ecosystems, habitats and communities associated with the Western Bass Strait Shelf Transition, the Bass Strait Shelf Province and associated with sea-floor features: deep/hole/valley, shelf;
  • Important migration area for blue (Balaenoptera musculus), fin (Balaenoptera physalus), sei (Balaenoptera borealis) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae);
  • Important foraging area for black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophrys), shy albatross (Thalassarche cauta), Australasian gannet (Morus serrator), short-tailed shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris), and crested tern (Thalasseus bergii); and
  • Cultural and heritage site for the wreck of the MV City of Rayville.

Further information about these and other Commonwealth marine reserves in the larger proximity is located at: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-reserves

Navigation Safety

Significant national and international commercial shipping traffic passes through Release Areas V15‑1 and T15-1.

More information on historical shipping traffic data can be found on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority website https://www.operations.amsa.gov.au/Spatial/

Fishing Activities

Release areas V15-1, T15-1 and T15-2 are within the South Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery, Small Pelagic Fishery, Southern Squid Jig Fishery, Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery, Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery, Eastern Skipjack Tuna Fishery, and Southern Bluefin Tuna Fisheries’ ranges.

Historical AFMA logbook data for 2009 to 2014 indicates that the Eastern Billfish and Tuna Fishery (ETBF), Squid Jig (SSJ), the Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery (BSCZS), the Gillnet, Hook and Trap Sector (GHAT) and the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (CTS) of the South Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery have been very active in the release area. Additional information on the distribution of fishing effort in the ETBF, SSJ, BSCZS, GHAT and CTS can be found in the Department of Agriculture Fishery Status Reports 2012:

http://data.daff.gov.au/data/warehouse/9aam/fsrXXd9abm_/fsr12d9abm_00220131029/01_FishStatus2012Start_1.00.pdf:

As fishing activity may vary from year to year, AFMA recommends successful applicants liaise with representatives of the above fishing interests at an early stage in planning operational activities.

Commonwealth Marine Reserves

Release Area T15‑3 borders Zeehan Commonwealth Marine Reserve and is approximately 15km from Franklin Commonwealth Marine Reserve.

Zeehan Commonwealth Marine Reserve comprises a Special Purpose zone (IUCN Category VI) and a Multiple Use zone (IUCN Category VI). Mining operations (including oil and gas exploration, development and other activities) are allowed under the Class Approval – Mining for the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. The major conservation values of the Zeehan Commonwealth Marine Reserve include:

  • Examples of ecosystems, habitats and communities associated with the Tasmania Province, the West Tasmania Transition the Western Bass Strait Shelf Transition and associated with sea-floor features: abyssal plain/deep ocean floor, canyon, deep/hole/valley, knoll/abyssal hill, shelf and slope;
  • Important migration area for blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae);
  • Important foraging areas for black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophrys), wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans), shy albatross (Thalassarche cauta), great-winged petrel (Pterodroma macroptera) and cape petrel (Daption capense); and
  • One key ecological feature is represented in this reserve: the West Tasmania Canyons;
  • Apollo Commonwealth Marine Reserve is a Multiple Use zone (IUCN Category VI). Mining operations (including oil and gas exploration, development and other activities) are allowed under the Class Approval – Mining for the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. The major conservation values of the Apollo Commonwealth Marine Reserve include:
  • Ecosystems, habitats and communities associated with the Western Bass Strait Shelf Transition, the Bass Strait Shelf Province and associated with sea-floor features: deep/hole/valley, shelf;
  • Important migration area for blue (Balaenoptera musculus), fin (Balaenoptera physalus), sei (Balaenoptera borealis) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae);
  • Important foraging area for black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophrys), shy albatross (Thalassarche cauta), Australasian gannet (Morus serrator), short-tailed shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris), and crested tern (Thalasseus bergii); and
  • Cultural and heritage site for the wreck of the MV City of Rayville.

Franklin Commonwealth Marine Reserve is a Multiple Use zone (IUCN Category VI). Mining operations (including oil and gas exploration, development and other activities) are allowed under the Class Approval – Mining for the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. The major conservation values of the Franklin Commonwealth Marine Reserve include:

  • Examples of ecosystems, habitats and communities associated with the Tasmanian Shelf Province, the Western Bass Strait Shelf Transition, and associated with sea-floor features: shelf, deep/hole/valley, escarpment, plateau; and
  • Important foraging area for shy albatross (Thalassarche cauta), short-tailed shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris), Australasian gannet (Morus serrator), fairy prion (Pachyptila turtur), little penguin (Eudyptula minor), common diving petrel (Pelecanoides urinatrix), black-faced cormorant (Phalacrocorax fuscescens) and silver gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae).

Further information about these and other Commonwealth marine reserves in the larger proximity is located at: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-reserves

Fishing Activities

Release area T15-3 is within the South Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery, Small Pelagic Fishery, Southern Squid Jig Fishery, Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery, Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery, Eastern Skipjack Tuna Fishery, and Southern Bluefin Tuna Fisheries’ ranges.

Historical AFMA logbook data for 2009 to 2014 indicates that the Eastern Billfish and Tuna Fishery (ETBF), Squid Jig (SSJ), the Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery (BSCZS), the Gillnet, Hook and Trap Sector (GHAT) and the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (CTS) of the South Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery have been very active in the release area. Additional information on the distribution of fishing effort in the ETBF, SSJ, BSCZS, GHAT and CTS can be found in the Department of Agriculture Fishery Status Reports 2012:

http://data.daff.gov.au/data/warehouse/9aam/fsrXXd9abm_/fsr12d9abm_00220131029/01_FishStatus2012Start_1.00.pdf:

As fishing activity may vary from year to year, AFMA recommends successful applicants liaise with representatives of the above fishing interests at an early stage in planning operational activities.

Commonwealth Marine Reserves

Release Areas V15-2 and V15-3 are respectively (approximately) 30km and 100km from the Beagle Commonwealth Marine Reserve.

Beagle Commonwealth Marine Reserve is a Multiple Use zone (IUCN Category VI). Mining operations (including oil and gas exploration, development and other activities) are allowed under the Class Approval – Mining for the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. The major conservation values of the Beagle Commonwealth Marine Reserve include:

  • Ecosystems, habitats and communities associated with the Southeast Shelf Transition and associated with sea-floor features: basin, plateau, shelf, sill;
  • Important migration and resting on migration area for the southern right whale (Eubalaena australis);
  • Important foraging area for the Australian fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus), killer whale (Orcinus orca), shy albatross (Thalassarche cauta), Australasian gannet (Morus serrator), short-tailed shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris), pacific gull (Larus pacificus), silver gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae), crested tern (Thalasseus bergii), common diving petrel (Pelecanoides urinatrix), fairy prion (Pachyptila turtur), black-faced cormorant (Phalacrocorax fuscescens), little penguin (Eudyptula minor) and white shark(Carcharodon carcharias); and
  • Cultural and heritage sites for the wreck of the steamship SS Cambridge and the wreck of the ketch Eliza Davies.

Further information about these and other Commonwealth marine reserves in the larger proximity is located at: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-reserves

Navigation Safety

Significant national and international commercial shipping traffic passes through Release Areas V15‑2 and V15-3.

More information on historical shipping traffic data can be found on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority website https://www.operations.amsa.gov.au/Spatial/

Fishing Activities

Release areas V15-2 and V15-3 are within the South Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery, Small Pelagic Fishery, Southern Squid Jig Fishery, Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery, Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery, Eastern Skipjack Tuna Fishery, and Southern Bluefin Tuna Fisheries’ ranges.

Historical AFMA logbook data for 2009 to 2014 indicates that the Eastern Billfish and Tuna Fishery (ETBF), Squid Jig (SSJ), the Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery (BSCZS), the Gillnet, Hook and Trap Sector (GHAT) and the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (CTS) of the South Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery have been very active in the release area. Additional information on the distribution of fishing effort in the ETBF, SSJ, BSCZS, GHAT and CTS can be found in the Department of Agriculture Fishery Status Reports 2012:

http://data.daff.gov.au/data/warehouse/9aam/fsrXXd9abm_/fsr12d9abm_00220131029/01_FishStatus2012Start_1.00.pdf:

As fishing activity may vary from year to year, AFMA recommends successful applicants liaise with representatives of the above fishing interests at an early stage in planning operational activities.

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Storage Assessment

Release Area V15-2 abuts Greenhouse Gas assessment Permit GIP-001. Successful applicants will be required to include the VIC-GIP/001 titleholder in consultation around operational activities.

The OPGGS Act sets out the requirements for the co-existence of the petroleum industry and the GHG storage industry. More information can be found in the Supporting Information section.