Local environmentalists express concern about seismic surveying

OCEAN CITY, Md. –  Concerns are being raised locally about the Trump Administration’s decision to authorize seismic surveying in the Atlantic in hopes of identifying where oil and gas formations are below the seafloor.

A lot of environmentalists are worried the surveying could have a significant impact on our marine life and coastal economy because the surveying involves firing intense blasts of air into the sea bed every 10 to 12 seconds for weeks or months at a time.

Kathy Phillips, an Assateague Coastkeeper with the Assateague Coastal Trust said, “It’s not going to be very good for Ocean City’s tourism industry if in the middle of the summer, dead dolphins and other sea mammals start floating up on Ocean City’s beaches.”

On Friday, the National Marine Fisheries Service authorized permits for five companies to use air guns for seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean.

Phillips said, “It’s just one more step in the progression through the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to finally open up oil drilling off our coast.”

It is a move that has many up in arms.

Phillips said, “The Town of Ocean City already is on record with a resolution opposing the seismic blasts, our Governor is opposed to it, the officials with the White Marlin Open are very concerned about this.”

Environmentalists primarily worry about the effect seismic air gun blasting would have on our marine life, particularly those who depend on their own sonar systems.

Phillips explained, “It can debilitate them and actually not only cause harm in that they get disoriented but they can actually physically harm them and cause death in some cases.”

Additionally, many are concerned about the effect seismic surveying could have on our economy.

Phillips said, “If the fisheries move away, if they are diverted into different areas, it’s going to be much more difficult for our commercial fisherman to do the work they need to do.”

On the other hand, the American Petroleum Institute insists seismic surveying is safe. They said in a statement, “The use of geophysical technologies helps to reduce risk in regards to cost, safety and damage to the environment.”

Environmentalists simply don’t agree. Phillips said, “It’s just unfortunate that we’ve moved one step closer.”

The next step in this process is for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to issue permits for the seismic exploration, which is expected to happen soon.

If you are against this or if you want to voice your support, you still have time to do so.

You are encouraged to call or send letters to your local politicians to express your opinion.

Assateague Coastal Trust also has links on their website ActForBays.org to make it easier for people to find who they need to contact for this.

Right now the proposed area for the blasting goes from Cape May, New Jersey all the way down to Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Categories: Local News, Maryland