Atlantic Beach, N.C. (WNCT) – Environmental groups gathered at Atlantic Beach on Monday to protest permits that allow testing of the ocean’s seabed for oil and gas reserves, a process called seismic blasting.
Environment North Carolina, a statewide citizen-based advocacy group, says that seismic blasting will harm our fishing and tourism industries and could cost North Carolina nearly $2.2 billion in gross domestic product.
Seismic blasting uses air guns to shoot blasts of sound under the ocean water and into the seabed to check for oil and gas reserves.
Environment North Carolina Field Director Liz Kazal said the blasts will have negative effects on our coastline. “Really we see seismic blasting as the first step in offshore drilling for oil,” Kazal said.
President Obama announced in March 2016 that offshore drilling off North Carolina’s coast would be banned for the next five years. However, seismic blasting is still allowed to occur.
The blasts have detrimental effects on marine wildlife. Studies estimate the blasts could potentially injure almost 140,000 marine animals and 13 million more marine animals’ mating, feeding and migration patterns.
“Fish flee the area when they hear the loud blasts,” Anna Windle, a member of Environment NC said. “There are about 500 Right whales living off the coast and loggerhead turtles that would be impacted.”
The group took action at Atlantic Beach today by collecting signatures from beachgoers to send to President Obama. They also took pictures to send to his social media page. The event collected more than 116 petitions, including signatures and pictures.
Emerald Isle resident, Gary Hardee, signed the petition out of support for his local community. “We are all in this together and we have to protect our beaches,” Hardee said.
Atlantic Beach is the first stop in a three part tour up North Carolina’s coast to educate residents. The next events will be held at Surf City on Tuesday and Kure Beach on Wednesday.