The Western Australian government has been attacked in an extraordinary broadside by the frontman for Californian punk rockers Pennywise.
Zoli Téglás, who joined the group in 2010 following founding singer Jim Lindberg’s departure, is a vocal environmentalist and avid member of both the infamous Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and the Pacific Wildlife Project; the later which sees him rescue pelicans and other sea birds for rehabilitation.
But unlike the classic American stereotype, Téglás base on the other side of the world hasn’t stopped him from becoming well informed of local environmental issues here in Australia, including a plan by the Western Australian government to drill and dredge up to six kilometres out to sea.
The plan, in partnership with energy giant Woodside, also includes the construction of a jetty stretching several kilometres through the middle of the dredged corridor, and is part of Woodside’s long-term vision to see James Price Point turned into a giant gas hub.
But the project has been slammed by environmentalists including former leader of The Greens Bob Brown, and the local indigenous population who say the area earmarked for dredging is the main breeding ground for the booming West Australian humpback whale population.
Of course Woodside disagrees. According to the company, “the most significant humpback whale study ever undertaken in Western Australia” found that “off James Price Point, the bulk of the migration occurs in waters approximately 30 km from the mainland, with less than five per cent of humpback whales travelling within eight km of the coast”.
Local indigenous leaders have now called upon infamous environmental group Sea Shepard to step in and help. The group are well known worldwide for their campaigns against the Japanese to prevent the whaling of the very same whales this dredging project threatens, and this campaign marks their first mainland campaign in Australia.
Which is where Téglás enters the fray, as an vocal supporter and active member of Sea Shepherd. “I clean the toilets on the Steve Irwin [Sea Shepherd's flagship], because I’m the new guy and the new guy cleans the toilets,” he tells TheMusic in a recent interview.
“I think the best way to [protect the environment] is to get into the Sea Shepherd conservation society and then, through that, find out one specific thing and focus on that. You can’t change the world, but you can save that one specific thing,” he adds.
One of Téglás biggest environmental concerns is the commercial fishing of sharks, “By the billions every year sharks are being killed off. If you take sharks out of the ecosystem, you’re going to get a sick ocean. It’s not going to stop them from attacking people.”
But that doesn’t mean he’s not aware and angry of the plan in Western Australia. “I know they’re going to make money off this dredging and pipeline they’re talking about and it’s always, ‘Oh, we need more oil, we need more jobs’, but not at the expense of your pristine, beautiful backyard,” he adds.
“Australia has such a beautiful coastline and there’s so many amazing diversity in types of fish. You really need to protect that, man, because everybody’s just looking to rape and pillage off your local waters.”
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