A fantastic representation by Rep. Joe Cunningham during a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing in which a debate ensued after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gave five companies permission to conduct seismic tests that could harm the whales last year in the US.
Scientists have proven that seismic blasts can interrupt the communication, reproduction, navigation and eating habits essential to the survival of marine life, including whales, dolphins, turtles, fish and even plankton. In the best case, marine mammals manage to escape from the noise in time. But in the worst case, the extreme sound pressure causes blood vessels to rupture and deafness. In addition, marine animals panic, surface too fast and die from decompression sickness or haemorrhaging. The energy from the blasts also damage eggs, larvae and force fish and other marine species to temporarily migrate away from the affected area.
At a more local scale, Namibian tuna catch shrank to 650 tonnes in 2013 from 4,046 tonnes in 2011, as a result of the search for oil and gas on the Atlantic coast driving tuna stock from their normal migratory routes. Studies show that fish catch rates are significantly lowered by noise from air guns indicating that increasing levels of human-produced noise in the ocean can significantly and adversely impact the food supply, employment and economies of many nations. Seismic airgun exploration poses an unacceptable risk of serious harm to marine life at the species and population levels, the full extent of which will not be understood until long after the harm has occurred.
Sadly, South African citizens are also required to fight off this ignorance and arrogance from those who are making environmentally uninformed decisions by enabling the unrestrained growth of the oil and gas sector, which has been proven detrimental to numerous countries and their environment, time and time again.
For the full article in The Washington Post, click here.