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DATE: November 30, 2018

SNIP: Marine mammals, many of which are already under threat, are now at greater risk, as the Trump administration issued permits today allowing seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean—a disruptive practice used to search for oil and gas deposits underneath the ocean floor.

“This is a license for private, for-profit companies to maim and even kill fragile marine life,” says Michael Jasny, director of NRDC’s Marine Mammal Protection Project. “And it’s the first step in exploiting the ocean treasures we all own—all in a reckless quest for more fossil fuels that speed up climate change.

The National Marine Fisheries Service’s five new permits, or Incidental Harassment Authorizations, will allow airgun blasting for one year in large undersea areas off the Atlantic coast. The blasts are as loud as dynamite and fired every 10 seconds for weeks, sometimes months. Blanketing the ocean, the noise disrupts the vital behaviors of marine life, including finding food, selecting mates, avoiding predators, and navigating. It’s also known to injure and kill invertebrates, displace fish, and put commercial fisheries at risk. “Scientists warn that seismic activity alone could drive the endangered North Atlantic right whale to extinction,” Jasny says.