Thursday, 13 December 2018

Trump administration to allow seismic blasting harmful to marine creatures

Airgun testing in search for oil and gas could harm hundreds of mammals such as dolphins and whales off the Atlantic coast
Oliver Milman in New York
Fri 30 Nov 2018 17.35 GMTLast modified on Sat 1 Dec 2018 09.36 GMT
The Trump administration is to allow marine creatures such as whales and dolphins to be harmed by companies as they search for potential oil and gas reserves off the Atlantic coast.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) has granted five operators permission to “incidentally but not intentionally harass marine mammals” while conducting surveys for fossil fuels in the seabed.
The testing will involve the use of seismic air guns which fire continuous blasts to ascertain whether deposits of oil and gas are present. This procedure is a precursor to what could be the first drilling in federal waters off the US eastern seaboard in decades.
By the federal government’s own estimates, airgun testing could harm hundreds of thousands of marine mammals such as dolphins and whales. Of particular concern is the endangered North Atlantic right whale, with only around 440 individuals left, including less than 100 breeding females.
Scientists have warned that the extreme disruption caused by airguns can harm a wide range of aquatic life, including sea turtles, fish and zooplankton, a critical foundational plank of the ocean food web.

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