For those following Oceana’s campaign to protect the East Coast from seismic blasting, we have exciting news to share: 25 towns along the East Coast have now passed resolutions opposing or expressing concern with seismic airgun use! Earlier this month, New Smyrna Beach, Florida—located along the coastal central-east region of the state—passed a resolution, bringing the total number to 25.
“The fact that 25 towns within the proposed seismic blast zone oppose this dangerous practice should be stark evidence to the federal government that many don’t want to see seismic airguns off their coast,” says campaign director Claire Douglass. “It’s a relief to see that local governments are listening to the people and their concerns. Local governments are taking the lead and protecting their coastal economies.”
Carolina Beach, North Carolina passed the first resolution late last February. Opposition has mounted up and down the Atlantic seaboard since then, with North Carolina leading the charge with 10 resolutions, followed by Florida with nine, New Jersey with five, and one in South Carolina.
In addition to these towns, nearly 100 local elected officials, 163 conservation and animal welfare organizations and groups like The Billfish Foundation and The International Game Fish Association have also joined the mounting opposition. The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, as well as more than 50 members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, have also called on President Obama to prevent the use of seismic airguns in the Atlantic. This past summer, all Democratic members of Florida’s congressional delegation, including Senator Bill Nelson, wrote to President Obama reiterating their opposition to oil and exploration off their coast.
Despite this widespread opposition, the Obama Administration issued a Record of Decision (ROD) in July, approving the use of these dynamite-like blasts to search for oil and gas deposits—which moves the East Coast one step closer to offshore drilling operations. This decision opens up waters from Delaware to Florida to this dangerous practice—an area twice the size of California—and threatens local fisheries, tourism and recreation.
Seismic airguns create one of the loudest manmade sounds in the ocean and could occur every 10 seconds, for days to weeks at a time. According to the government’s own estimates, these blasts could injure up to 138,200 marine mammals—including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale—while disrupting necessary activities like breeding and feeding of millions more. In addition, these blasts can kill fish eggs and larvae, and deter fish from important habitats. Cod and haddock are said to have declined by 40 to 80 percent for thousands of miles from previous seismic activities.
“Seismic airgun blasting jeopardizes East Coast ecosystems, economies and livelihoods. With the federal government’s draft five-year energy plan expected to be released in early 2015, the time to protect the Atlantic is now,” says Douglass. “These resolutions are a significant step to preventing seismic blasting, and we hope to see more local towns protecting their economies, beaches and livelihoods from this dirty practice.”
With seismic airgun blasting being the first step to offshore drilling exploration, Oceana believes that the U.S. cannot afford another devastating spill like the 2010 BP disaster. Oceana is actively campaigning against seismic airgun blasting on both a state and federal level, while promoting the use of cleaner energy sources like offshore wind power. Click here to learn more about our efforts.
Update, February 4, 2015: Seven more towns along the East Coast have passed resolutions opposing or voicing their concern with seismic airgun blasting, including West Melbourne, Fla., Neptune Beach, Fla., Indialantic, Fla. Indian Harbor Beach, Fla., Melbourne Fla.,Tybee Island, Georgia and St. Mary’s Ga., bringing the current total number of resolutions to 32. Tybee Island marked the first town in Georgia to pass a resolution.
Update, February 19, 2015: Three more towns along the East Coast have passed resolutions opposing or voicing their concern with seismic airgun blasting, bringing the total number of resolutions to 35. Space Coast League of Cities, Fla., Beaufort, S.C. and Port Royal, S.C. have also passed resolutions within the past few weeks. The headline of this article has also been updated to reflect the growing opposition.
Update, March 25, 2015: Ten more towns along the East Coast have passed resolutions opposing or voicing their concern with seismic airgun blasting, totaling 45 resolutions. Click here to follow the mounting opposition. The headline of this article has also been updated to reflect the growing opposition.