Mid- and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils Reaffirm Concerns with Seismic Airgun Blasting and Offshore Oil Drilling
Press Release Date: December 11, 2015
WASHINGTON– This week, the Mid- and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils reaffirmed their concern with seismic airgun blasting and offshore drilling off the East Coast. Specifically, the Councils took action to update their policies related to non-fishing activities in order to ensure that fisheries in the region are protected from other ocean uses such as oil and gas exploration and development. Under federal law, the Councils are given a voice in the management of ocean resources in their jurisdictions, which stretch from New York to Florida in an area from three to 200 miles offshore.
The Obama administration is currently considering opening a large swath of the Atlantic Ocean, from Virginia to Georgia, to offshore drilling. Meanwhile, seismic airgun blasting, a process used to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor, is continuing to move forward in an area twice the size of California, stretching all the way from Delaware to Florida.
Oceana campaign director Claire Douglass released the following statement:
“Oceana applauds these Councils for taking action to protect the long-term health of the regions’ fisheries in the face of looming threats such as seismic airgun blasting and offshore drilling.
These policies should be a wake-up call to the federal government, highlighting the threats of offshore drilling exploration and development on fish, fish habitat, and everything that relies on a healthy ocean ecosystem. Commercial fishing and other coastal industries would suffer from routine leaks as well as the looming risk of a BP Deepwater Horizon-like oil disaster along the East Coast.
Seismic blasting and certain other types of offshore oil exploration threaten recreational and commercial fisheries, potentially leading to multi-million dollar economic losses in coastal towns and communities. Along the Atlantic coast, nearly 1.4 million jobs and over $95 billion in gross domestic product rely on healthy ocean ecosystems, mainly through fishing, tourism and recreation. This far outweighs any potential jobs or economic gain that could ever be provided from offshore drilling.
The Obama administration’s proposals ignore mounting East Coast opposition, past disasters, and threats to economies and marine life, putting the entire Atlantic coast at risk – all for less than 4 percent of the nation’s total oil and natural gas reserves.
Opposition to East Coast drilling is growing every day, and the Councils have just added their voices to this growing consensus. As of today, more than 90 East Coast municipalities, more than 600 federal state and local elected officials and over 300 business interests have all publically opposed offshore drilling, citing threats to marine life, coastal communities and local economies.
Just yesterday, 33 members of Congress, led by Congressmen Mark Sanford (R-SC) and Bobby Scott (D-VA), wrote to the Obama administration to express deep concerns about these activities.
We encourage other local residents and organizations to speak out against seismic blasting and offshore oil development and contact their elected officials to let them know our fish, fisheries and healthy oceans are more important than risky oil drilling.”
Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 600,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America, Asia, and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.