Breaking! Seismic Blasting Halted In Atlantic Ocean Giving Hope To Critically Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales
Photo by: Canadian Wildlife Federation
Yesterday, a status conference on seismic litigation revealed that the industry will not pursue efforts to employ seismic blasting to search the Atlantic Ocean for offshore petroleum deposits this year, and possibly for several years.
The hearing marked a victory for dozens of organizations and thousands of coastal communities and businesses in a years-long legal and public battle challenging the government’s issuance of Incidental Harassment Authorizations, or IHAs. Those authorizations were needed because the airgun bombardment of the seafloor would have hurt marine animals, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.
The developments included:
Recognition by government attorneys that the IHAs would expire on Nov. 30, and there was no mechanism to extend them.
Acknowledgment that seeking new permits would move the lengthy process back to square one.
A concession from lawyers representing the seismic industry that it is not feasible to launch boats this year.
“This is a huge victory not just for us but for every coastal community that loudly and persistently protested the possibility of seismic blasting,” said Catherine Wannamaker, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, in a statement. “There will be no boats in the water this year, and because this resets the clock, there will be no boats in the water for a long time. And we’ll continue fighting to keep it that way.”
“Seismic blasting harms whales in the search for offshore oil that we should leave in the ground. We can’t allow the oil industry’s greed to threaten endangered North Atlantic right whales and other vulnerable species,” said Kristen Monsell, ocean legal director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re happy these animals will have a reprieve from this unjustified acoustic attack on our oceans. We’ll keep fighting to ensure the oil industry stays out of the Atlantic.”
“We are at a crucial time for the last remaining 400 North Atlantic right whales on the planet,” said Alice M. Keyes, Vice President of Coastal Conservation for One Hundred Miles. “Seismic blasting in the Atlantic would sound the death knell for this magnificent species. We are proud to stand alongside hundreds of thousands of Georgians and East Coast residents who have fought against seismic blasting for the protection of our marine mammals, fisheries, and ocean-dependent economies.”