Oceana | Protecting the World's Oceans

Stop Seismic Airgun Testing in the Atlantic: Elected Official Sign-On Letter

As a representative of a coastal community you know how important healthy oceans are to your constituents.

The Obama Administration and coastal governors are currently considering proposals to allow seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean to search for oil and gas deposits. Not only is seismic blasting the first step toward East Coast drilling, and the inevitable oil spills that will follow, but seismic airguns are incredibly disruptive to marine wildlife and fish. The Department of Interior estimates as many as 138,000 whales and dolphins could be injured or possibly killed by seismic blasting in the proposed area.

Please sign on to the letter below calling on the Obama Administration to prevent seismic airgun use in the Atlantic. We’ve succeeded in delaying the process for the past 3 years, but coastal governments and the Obama administration are taking steps in opening up the Atlantic to seismic airgun blasting AND offshore drilling—we can’t win this fight without you.

For more information watch our short film Drill Spill Repeat" or read about what’s at stake in our latest report, Atlantic Energy: Offshore Energy by the Numbers.

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     Dear Atlantic Governors, President Obama and Interior Secretary Jewell,

    I am writing to urge you to halt proposed seismic airgun blasting for oil and gas in the Atlantic Ocean. Proposed seismic airgun blasting would span from Delaware to Florida, but the impacts would be felt in communities throughout the entire East Coast—potentially harming marine life, ecosystems, fisheries and coastal economies. 

    The use of seismic airguns threatens fish populations and profitable fisheries. In fact, airgun noise has been shown to decrease catch rates of certain fisheries. Commercial and recreational fishing off the mid and south Atlantic generates billions annually and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs. The Department of the Interior's assessment ignores the economic impacts proposed seismic blasting could have on fisheries and the fishermen who rely on healthy oceans for their livelihoods. 

    Additionally, seismic airguns used to search for oil and gas are incredibly harmful and could injure or possibly kill thousands of marine mammals and fish, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. Seismic airguns fire intense blasts of compressed air - almost as loud as explosives - every 10-12 seconds, 24 hours a day, for days to weeks on end. These loud airgun blasts can be heard for many hundreds of miles in the ocean and can drive whales to abandon their habitats, go silent, and cease foraging over vast areas. At shorter distances, airguns can cause permanent hearing loss, injury, and even death for whales, dolphins and fish. 

    Proposed seismic airgun blasting will result in serious negative impacts to our marine resources that form the foundation of economic vitality for communities all along the Atlantic coast. We urge you to stop this process and focus on ensuring the vitality of vulnerable coastal communities. We cannot continue to put our ocean environment, beaches, marine resources, and coastal economies at risk.