Six days after President Obama announced plans to open new areas to offshore drilling, the Feds (Mineral Management Service – MMS) have scheduled seven public hearings on proposed Atlantic geophysical exploration (aka seismic surveys) including a hearing in Norfolk (Hilton Norfolk Airport) on April 29 at 1:00pm and 7:00pm.
Please attend this hearing and speak out against seismic surveying in the Atlantic. Click here to let us know if you plan to attend and/or speak and to view our talking points.
Hundreds of thousands of miles off the East Coast will be surveyed using high-intensity airguns that blast into the water every few seconds for months on end. The areas of the Atlantic being considered for
seismic testing include migration and spawning corridors, habitats, and feeding grounds of several marine mammal species, including endangered species like the Right whale.
Dolphins, whales and seals utilize their sense of hearing to locate prey, avoid predators, choose migration routes, and to communicate across long distances. Saturating ocean waters with constant high-intensity
sound causes behavioral disruptions that ultimately lead to injury and even death amongst marine mammals.
Strandings of whales on beaches is the most obvious sign of trauma caused by seismic activities. Much less obvious is the marine mammals whose compromised hearing makes them easy prey for predators.
Fish are also impacted by seismic activities as airgun blasts cause physical damage to fish ears and other tissues and organs used to detect sound, such as swim bladders. Fish become disoriented and their
capacities to find food are reduced.
Altered fish behavior along with disruptions in the food web, have been proven to dramatically depress catch rates of various commercial species to include cod, haddock, and rockfish. In Virginia, fishing is a $1 billion dollar industry that faces potential risk with seismic surveys off our coast.
Please attend this hearing and speak out against seismic activities in sensitive environmental areas off our Virginia coast. MMS must either keep airguns out of these areas or promote use of greener alternatives to airguns.
If you can’t attend the hearing in Norfolk on April 29, please express your concerns to MMS directly via email to GGEIS@mms.gov. The comment period ends May 17, 2010.