Whale freed but questions asked
Authorities admitted to being "surprised" after an eight-metre Humpback Whale became entangled in shark nets off Coolangatta in late August.
Queensland Boating and Fisheries district manager Jeff Krause said they don't usually expect any to get into trouble so early in the mammals southern migration.
"It's normally towards the end of September and into October that we face the possibility of whales getting caught in the shark nets", he said.
It took a team of specialists around four hours to free the animal after the alarm was raised by lifeguards early on the morning of the 31st of August.
Although the saga had a happy ending, environmentalists say the incident again highlights the danger the nets pose to all marine creatures and are calling on government to explore alternative shark control measures.
Claims new gas plant won't pose a problem
Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett says his government will do all it can to ensure a proposed multi-billion dollar Liquid Natural Gas plant in the state's north-west does not adversely impact the region's wildlife.
Environmentalists have long-campaigned against the development of LNG processing plants on the Kimberley coast claiming that offshore processing is a far better option.
Spokesman Richard Coustin noted that a recent aerial survey revealed the area is home to one of the highest concentrations of Humpback Whales anywhere in the world.
"Over a two-hour flight we recorded about 102 pods, which represented 162 individual whales," he said.
But in spite of widespread community concerns the $50 billion project - to be built at James Price Point, approximately 60 kilometres north of Broome - has been given the green light by both State and Federal governments.
Once operational the plant will process gas taken from the Browse Basin.
Oil spill could be "one of the worst ever"
There are fears that a massive oil spill in the Timor Sea off Western Australia's northern coast could turn out to be one of the worst in the nation's history.
It's claimed the leak at the West Atlas mobile offshore drilling unit - 250 kilometres north of Truscott, and 690 kilometres west of Darwin - could take up to eight weeks to cap.
Within days of the incident a thick oil slick some 14 kilometres long and 30 metres wide had been created, threatening rich (and traditional) fishing grounds to the north of the platform.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority then began a program of aerial spraying in a bid to disperse the slick while the rig's operators took steps to shut the facility down.
But some green groups say the overall response was a case of "too little, too late". And that the accident again highlights the need for better emergency response plans for oil and gas sites in such fragile conservation areas.
State settles on spill cleanup bill
After months of wrangling the Queensland state government has reached a $25 million dollar settlement with Swire Shipping for costs associated with the massive cleanup operation mounted off the south-east coast in March.
270,000 litres of oil coated parts of the region's coastline after fuel tanks on the cargo ship Pacific Adventurer were ruptured when a load of containers was lost overboard in heavy seas.
State government agencies, local councils, and a small army of volunteers then took several weeks to clear the oil from a number of beaches on Moreton Island and the Sunshine Coast.
Questions were raised over the Captain's decision to put to sea given the prevailing conditions and for the company to foot the lion's share of the bill for the cleanup operation, however, Swire argued that it was only legally liable for up to $17.5 million in costs.
Queensland Premier Annan Bligh said the settlement was a "good outcome" and that the estimated balance of $31 million would be met by an increase in shipping levies for commercial operators in the state's waters.
Documentary aims to end Dolphin "massacre"
The team behind "The Cove" are hoping the film will help bring an end to the bloody massacre of hundreds of dolphins in the Japanese coastal city of Taiji.
Every year local fisherman herd pods of dolphins into a small cove, capturing some for marine parks, and slaughtering the rest.
While the documentary has won several prestigious awards, and widespread critical acclaim, it is not the faint-hearted, with some graphic and truly disturbing images of the killing.
Making the film also proved to be a hazardous exercise for the production team who were subjected to constant harassment (and threats) from local fishermen and authorities alike.
Free-surfer (and founder of 'Surfers for Cetaceans') Dave Rastovich features prominently in "The Cove", alongside free-divers Kirk Krack and Mandy-Rae Cruikshank, which was directed by renowned film-maker and conservationist Louie Psihoyos.
For more information on how you can help bring and end to this senseless practice log on to: www.surfersforcetaceans.com .