Marine mammals—such as bearded and ringed seals, beluga whales, and the endangered bowhead whale—depend on sound to communicate, find food, and avoid prey. Oil exploration activities fill the ocean with loud noise that can interfere with these basic functions. Seismic surveying, for example, uses air-guns to detect oil beneath the sea-floor. The blasts—loud enough to cause deafness—occur day and night for months, and cover vast areas of the ocean.
Unfortunately, the federal government is proposing moving forward with loud and risky oil exploration methods even though it has not completed an assessment of the cumulative impacts on Arctic marine mammals.
Tell the National Marine Fisheries Service not to permit any Arctic Ocean oil exploration until it completes a full analysis of the effects and understands how to mitigate the damage to marine mammals.
- National Marine FIsheries Service
- Kathryn D. Sullivan, Acting NOAA Administrator
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) should not allow loud and risky industrial oil exploration in the Arctic Ocean—especially when the region and its marine wildlife are already under great stress from climate change—until it has completed a full and adequate analysis of the potential effects of this activity and understands how to effectively mitigate them.
I urge the NMFS to substantially revise its Supplemental Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. It fails to present the cumulative impacts of multiple oil and gas exploration activities or to propose effective measures to address those impacts. Also, none of the alternatives assessed in it adequately protect Arctic marine wildlife.
It is time to go back to the drawing board and get it right—and to stop issuing permits for oil exploration activities in the meantime.
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