Seismic testing companies say they will pursue NC coast

EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Several seismic testing companies said they are still trying to pursue the testing off our coast.

Here’s how it works: A large vessel tows a streamer, which emits sound waves to map the crust of the ocean along more than 400 miles of the NC coast.

The North Carolina Coastal Federation said the testing could impact multiple industries, from tourism to fishing and wildlife.

While several companies are waiting for their permits to get approved, officials along the coast said the data collected would be the first step needed toward off shore drilling.

“This seismic data, if they move forward with it, might be incorporated into the next leasing program,” explained Greg Rudolph, the Director of the Coastal Shoreline Protection Office.

The surveys are conducted 24/7 until the project is complete and the proposed surveys could start as early as May of this year.

“The pros are that it is the way to understand geology without drilling one well in one spot, it gives you a 3-d image of the geology which is very important,” said Rudolph. “The con side, I would say, is that these sound waves can impact marine mammals.”

People along the coast disagree on the issue. Some said more exploration is needed, others said it’s too risky.

One of those risks include cutting down on an a thriving industry in the state, fishing

“These companies aren’t going to want fishing boats in close proximity to their sonic rays so you may have exclusion zones where people are basically kept out of their traditional fishing grounds,” said Todd Miller, the Executive Director of the North Carolina Coastal Federation, who added it could also impact the breeding or migration habits of marine life. “There probably will be damage to marine mammals, to fishery catches.”

The Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy will decide on the permits to the eight agencies.

Miller said the impacts could be an issue, “It’ll have impacts. The extent and how serious is still an open question, but do we take chances without knowing the answers?”

Officials said it’s still unknown whether fishing will be allowed in the seismic testing area or if North Carolina will make companies yield to the fishing industry.

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