We’re Watching: President Trump Fast Tracks Seismic Airgun Blasting in Atlantic Ocean | Oceana USA

We’re Watching: President Trump Fast Tracks Seismic Airgun Blasting in Atlantic Ocean

Oceana’s “We’re Watching” map displays near real-time activity of vessels capable of conducting loud and disruptive seismic airgun blasting in search of potential oil and gas deposits deep below the seafloor in the Atlantic Ocean. The red outline on the map refers to the “Blast Zone” – the area at risk of new seismic airgun blasting. Seismic airgun blasting is an extremely loud and invasive activity that threatens serious injury and even death to whales, dolphins and other marine life. If that is not bad enough, it is also the first step in opening the Atlantic Ocean to dirty and dangerous offshore drilling. 

Click here to learn how to use this map


Source: Oceana, based on data from Global Fishing Watch and ORBCOMM


In April 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order to “expedite” the permitting process for harmful seismic airgun blasting, reversing the previous administration’s decision to deny all pending permits for seismic blasting in the Atlantic.  

The Obama administration had concluded 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.” The 2017 Executive Order from President Trump ignored this conclusion and resumed the permitting process for the seismic companies. Five of those companies have requested Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHAs) from the National Marine Fisheries Service (Fisheries Service), which are licenses to harm or harass marine mammals while seismic airgun blasting for oil and gas. 

Before the seismic companies can blast airguns in the Atlantic Ocean, Geological and Geophysical (G&G) permits must also be approved by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). In the map above, you can follow the activity and tracks of apparent seismic vessels to determine if and when they are headed to or are located within the blast zone.

Apparent seismic activity can be identified based on the behavior of the vessel and will appear on the map as successive parallel or grid-like lines

Oceana is committed to considering every legal tool available to prevent or stop seismic airgun blasting and the harm it would cause to marine life and ocean health, all in the shortsighted pursuit of dirty and dangerous offshore drilling.

To learn more about seismic airgun blasting, click here.

To learn about the growing and widespread opposition to seismic airgun blasting and offshore drilling, please visit StopTheDrill.org

To read the methodology of how this map was developed, click here.