Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast Condemns Release of Permits to Harm Marine Mammals for Offshore Oil

First Step Towards Offshore Drilling Paints Bleak Future for Atlantic Businesses

Published Friday, November 30, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:   NOVEMBER 30, 2018
Contact:
Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast -- Vicki Clark, 609-425-5380, vicki@cmcchamber.com , BAPAC2017@gmail.com

 
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHAs) permitting five private companies to harm marine mammals with seismic airgun blasting. Seismic airguns, used to probe the ocean floor in search of oil and gas deposits, produce blasts that are among the loudest manmade sounds in the ocean. Seismic airgun blasts can be heard underwater up to 2,500 miles away, disturbing, injuring and potentially killing marine animals that are essential to the ocean food chain.
Under the permits released today, marine mammals along the Atlantic coast—from Cape May, New Jersey to Cape Canaveral, Florida—will be exposed to dangerous and disruptive blasts. Impacts to wildlife are not just potential side effects of seismic blasting, they are anticipated outcomes. According to government estimates, the proposed seismic airgun tests could harass or harm marine mammals like dolphins and whales hundreds of thousands of times and disturb thousands of other marine animals.
The Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast (BAPAC), which represents over 42,000 diverse businesses and 500,000 commercial fishing families from Maine to Florida, condemns the release of these permits. We stand in strong opposition to seismic airgun blasting which will harm the marine life upon which our businesses and coastal economies depend.
Seismic airgun blasting is the precursor to offshore drilling. Following today’s release of the IHAs, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is expected to soon issue final permits to blast, eventually resulting in exploratory drilling. As evidenced by the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, exploratory offshore drilling can irreparably damage our shorelines and destroy our thriving coastal economies.
 
Below are statements from BAPAC Board of Directors and business leaders:
Vicki Clark, President of BAPAC; President and CEO of the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce said, “Our businesses here in New Jersey—and all along the Atlantic coast—are rooted in a vibrant coastal economy. The decision to harm marine mammals in search for oil deposits could wreak havoc on our ocean-dependent industries.”
 
Laura Wood-Habr, Founding board member of BAPAC and co-owner Croc’s 19th Street Bistro said, “Virginia Beach tourism rely on clean oceans to bring in tourists and provide the delicious, high-quality seafood we are known for serving. Seismic airgun blasting will undoubtedly harm the unique Atlantic fisheries coastal restaurants and seafood industry depend on.”
 
"Opening the door to offshore drilling by allowing this unprecedented amount of seismic blasting in the Atlantic can do irreparable harm to the newly discovered coral reefs off the South Carolina coast. There is little doubt of the importance of the 85-mile-long reef to our regional fishery and the greater good of preserving the resources in the Atlantic are being overlooked with this decision,” said Sandra Bundy, Broker-in-Charge at B&P, Inc.
 
“The Outer Banks business community depends on a clean and beautiful coast to support our multi-billion-dollar tourism, recreation and fishing industries,” said Karen Brown, President and CEO of the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce. “The release of these permits puts us one step closer to oil-covered beaches and economic disaster.”
 
 “There is ample scientific evidence that seismic airgun blasting has lethal and significant sub-lethal physiological effects on marine mammals and fish. This technology would harm the health of the marine ecosystems that our fishermen and fishing communities rely on,” said Amy MacKown, Community Organizer for the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance
 
Since its formation in September 2016, BAPAC has fought to protect the Atlantic coast from seismic airgun blasting and offshore drilling. BAPAC’s previous advocacy efforts in Washington played an influential role in successfully encouraging the Obama Administration to reject seismic testing permits for the Atlantic Ocean. In January 2017, BOEM found that, “the value of obtaining the geophysical and geological information from new airgun seismic surveys in the Atlantic does not outweigh the potential risks of those surveys’ acoustic pulse impacts on marine life” and the permits were subsequently denied.
The IHAs released today pose the same threat to marine life and our coastal economies as they did in 2017, and BAPAC will continue to lead the fight against seismic testing just as it has before.
 
The Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast (BAPAC) is the leading business organization working to ensure the long term health and economic vitality of the Atlantic seaboard through responsible stewardship of the coastal and ocean waters. Visit www.protectingtheatlanticcoast.org to learn more.

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