More than 30,000 Australians have backed a letter urging the Federal Government to stop possible oil and gas exploration near the world-heritage listed Ningaloo area. The outcry was part of the public comment for this year’s Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release that saw areas off the Ningaloo coast included as possible areas for investigation. The acreage release is part of the Government’s strategy to promote offshore oil and gas exploration, with the Government inviting companies to bid for the opportunity to invest in oil and gas exploration in Australian waters. The recent releases indicate industry is interested in Commonwealth waters off the World Heritage areas of Shark Bay and Ningaloo and the Exmouth Gulf. The letter urged the Government to apply “common sense” and remove the areas adjacent to Ningaloo that have been nominated for oil and gas exploration. Protect Ningaloo directer Paul Gamblin said the letter had received a massive response, and people were shocked by the proposal. “What the community wants the Government to do here could not be clearer: remove the threat of oil and gas development at Ningaloo and Exmouth Gulf,” Mr Gamblin said. Mr Gamblin said a healthy Ningaloo-Exmouth Gulf would continue to generate jobs in tourism, research, land, and sea management. “Prudent and reasonable economic policy for the region is to secure the natural assets that support the area’s famed tourism industry,” he said. “Eroding that capital fails the test of economics, let alone undermining the sensible management of our natural heritage.” Public comment for the release closed on June 29, with a final acreage release to be made later this month for companies can bid on.