Oil exploration off coast seen as threat to right whales – South Carolina News

Oil exploration off coast seen as threat to right whales –  South Carolina News

As the Trump administration restarts the process to allow oil exploration in the Atlantic Ocean, scientists are warning of its effects on Georgia’s state marine mammal.

“Of particular concern is the North Atlantic right whale,” said a joint statement from leading whale researchers Christopher Clark and Aaron Rice at Cornell University, Andrew Read and Doug Nowacek from Duke University, Scott Kraus at the New England Aquarium, and Howard Rosenbaum with the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“This is one of the most endangered great whales on the planet and is already in a state of decline.”

Federal regulators at NOAA Fisheries announced recently they are moving forward with the issuance of “incidental harassment authorizations.” The authorizations allow companies that are proposing to conduct geophysical surveys in the Atlantic Ocean using seismic air guns to incidentally, but not intentionally, harass marine mammals.

After significant outcry against seismic exploration on the East Coast, including resolutions from 175 coastal cities including Savannah and Tybee Island, the Obama administration denied these permits.

In April, however, President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at expanding offshore drilling and exploration. The order calls for a review of the current five-year program for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf and directs the administration to fast-track the permitting process for seismic airgun blasting for an area stretching from Delaware to Florida.

NOAA Fisheries estimates that right whales could experience up to 64 incidents of…

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