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Scientists fight sound blasting to protect commercial fish stock
Monday, March 9, 2015

Scientists from the United States recently drafted a letter to President Obama urging the halt of a planned oil and gas exploration program off the Atlantic coast. The program is set to include millions of underwater sound blasts that would have “significant, long-lasting and widespread impacts on the reproduction and survival” of threatened commercial fish populations, according to the letter.

Seventy-five scientists from Cornell, Duke, Stanford and the New England Aquarium signed their names to the letter, which said that the seismic blasts coming from high-volume airguns would have an “enormous environmental footprint.”

The blasts “could have potentially massive impacts on fish populations,” according to the letter. In some countries, seismic testing has driven away commercial species, resulting in huge drops in catch rates. Studies also show airguns could kill fish eggs and larvae, interfere with breeding and make species more vulnerable to predators.

The seismic blasts are used by oil companies to locate oil and gas deposits below the ocean floor. Blasts were authorized by the Department of the Interior last year and would result in more than 20 million seismic “shots” throughout a multi-year period.

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