The Great Australian Bight is unique ecologically as it contains Australia's only deep reaching coastal upwelling system where nutrient-rich cold water from deeper than 300m comes to the surface. It is this unique environment which attracts the Southern Right Whales to calve there, Blue and Sperm Whales to forage there, as do Great White Sharks.
Australian Sea Lions also breed there and Bluefin Tuna feed on the proliferation of smaller prey fish which in turn feed upon the huge up-wellings of zooplankton. Of the 600 species of fish in Southern Australian waters, at least 370 occur in the Bight.
If there was a major oil spill, there is a first response subsea toolkit in Fremantle. It is estimated that it would take 5 days to get the toolkit from Fremantle to Adelaide, then extra time to get it to the spill site by vessel.
This is still not the equipment used for complicated deep sea well capping which would have to come partly by sea from Texas - taking 35 days in BP's own words.
If there is a major spill of any sort in the Bight then it could easily affect the entire southern seaboard of Australia -- from Ceduna to the South Australia-Victoria Border, and even through Bass Strait. The current which attracts so many of these marine mammals is the same current that would make dealing with an oil spill in this area extremely difficult.
This would affect immeasurably one of the planet's incredibly important assemblages of ecosystems and the breeding and foraging grounds of the whales, sharks, marine mammals, pelagic fish species and all the other amazingly diverse marine flora and fauna.
The Offshore Drilling Authority NOPSEMA refused the initial application by BP, because of insufficient application detail, particularly in reference to emergency response plans, but BP is reapplying. This decision will be made in mid-May 2016 so this is still a big issue!