Last update11:02:17 PM

Font Size


Menu Style

Back You are here: Home News Local and State News Local Opposition to Seismic Airguns Mounts in North Carolina

Opposition to Seismic Airguns Mounts in North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. - As the public comment period closed  May 7th on the proposed use of seismic airguns along the East Coast, coastal residents and elected officials are joining the growing movement urging President Obama to protect coastal economies and marine life by prohibiting the use of dynamite-like seismic airgun blasts.  As of May 7th, more than 4,800 state residents, and 25 state and local elected officials have submitted their concerns to the Obama administration.
Eleven coastal municipalities along the Atlantic coast have passed local resolutions and letters of both concern and opposition to their use, including Carolina Beach, Nags Head, Topsail Beach and Oak Island, NC.
In February, the United States government released a final proposal that would allow the use of this controversial technology to look for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor in an area twice the size of California, stretching from Delaware to Florida.  According to the Department of the Interior (DOI), these dynamite-like blasts could injure and possibly kill up to 138,200 marine mammals like dolphins and whales, while disrupting the necessary activities of millions more. One species of particular concern is the North Atlantic right whale, the rarest large whale species, of which there are only approximately 500 left worldwide. In addition, fisheries managers have also raised concerns about the potential disruption to fish habitat and catch rates.
 “We commend the Tar Heel State’s citizens and elected officials for standing up and letting their voices be heard on seismic blasting,” said Randy Sturgill, campaign organizer at Oceana. “The White House and the Department of the Interior have been sent a powerful message that coastal communities do not want to turn the Atlantic into a blast zone. Seismic airguns would threaten the health of ocean ecosystems and the resources they provide to coastal communities along the entire North Carolina coast.”
“A special thanks go out to local officials like Nags Head’s Mayor Pro tempore Susie Walters, Council Member Emilie Swearingen from Kure Beach, and North Carolina State Representative Pricey Harrison for taking a stand against seismic airgun use in the Atlantic,” Sturgill added.
 Representative Harrison has been a leader in the effort to oppose seismic blasting in North Carolina. Twenty-one of her colleagues in the state legislature signed her letter in opposition to seismic blasting that was delivered to the Obama Administration yesterday.
 “The question is not whether there will be another spill, but when. Unfortunately, our Governor has forgotten all about the damage caused by the Gulf oil spill and the spills that have happened since. Four years ago, 200 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico and 11 workers died. The Gulf has still not recovered,” said State Representative Pricey Harrison.
“North Carolina has much to lose and nothing to gain by moving forward with seismic blasting and drilling off our coast. North Carolina should be focusing on clean energy alternatives rather than on dirty fossil fuel sources that threaten marine wildlife and coastal communities.”
In April, Oceana also announced that 160+ conservation and animal welfare organizations, including Surfrider Foundation, Echo Friendly Action and The North Carolina Coastal Federation, have joined the mounting opposition against seismic airgun use along the East Coast.
"East Coast citizens, in mass, have just started waking up to the potential devastation that seismic testing could cause. Several communities have made the concerted effort to speak out loud and clear against it,” said Brady Bradshaw, campaign coordinator for Echo Friendly Action. “Now we'll see if the well- being of the coast and the voice of the citizens matter to the Interior Department."
 “While the dangers of seismic testing to our wildlife, tourism, and economy are very disturbing, it's been inspiring to see so many coastal communities coming together to help protect our oceans,” said Ethan Crouch, Chair of the Cape Fear Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.
 Barrier islands cover nearly the entirety of North Carolina’s coast. The state’s abundant ocean resources are a major tourist attraction. The GDP from North Carolina’s living resources, which includes fishing, hatcheries, aquaculture, seafood processing and seafood markets, is valued at nearly $157 million. GDP from ocean-based tourism and recreation in the state totals nearly $983 million. From fishing, tourism and recreation, there are a total of 56,080 jobs in North Carolina directly dependent on the resources threatened by seismic airguns, and countless others that are indirectly dependent on those resources.  North Carolina also generates millions of dollars in commercial fishing from blue crab, shrimp, flounder, croaker and bluefish.
On May 7th, Oceana also submitted a letter signed by 76 local elected officials as well as local resolutions from 11 coastal towns along the East Coast (Bradley Beach NJ, Cape Canaveral FL, Carolina Beach NC, Caswell Beach NC, Cocoa Beach FL, Nags Head NC, Oak Island NC, Red Bank NJ, St. Augustine FL, St. Petersburg FL, & Topsail Beach NC) urging President Obama to rethink his approval of seismic blasting. In total, more than 150 national, state and local elected officials have expressed their opposition to the proposal. For more information about Oceana’s grassroots efforts, please see the map on
Seismic air guns are used to find oil and gas deep underneath the ocean floor. The sound waves that return to the vessel towing monitoring equipment are used to determine if oil or natural gas are located beneath the ocean floor.
The dynamite-like blasts are 100,000 times louder than a jet engine and harm marine life including whales.