Category Archives: Seismic Blasting

Obama approves seismic activity off East coast – Sign petition to United States Department of the Interior

July 31st, 2013

 

Seismic airgun activity for oil and gas exploration has been approved by the Obama Administration. At present, the Department of Interior is deciding whether to allow seismic surveys for offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean from New Jersey to Florida. The proposed surveys would employ loud and continuous sound blasts that would cause devastating impacts to whales, dolphins, sea turtles, fishes and other marine life, as well as the ecosystem.
Blasts from seismic airguns have been shown to interfere with the mating, feeding, communication, and migration activities of numerous species, including the critically endangered Northern Atlantic right whale which numbers around 300 whales.

http://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/seismic-airgun-activity-off-atlantic-coast-of-u-s-could-harm-thousands-of-marine-animals?utm_campaign=mailto_link&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition

 

Share Button

Shell survey could affect bluefin tuna (Chronicle Herald)

May 22nd, 2013

Joann Alberstat
Chronicle Herald
March 8, 2013

Shell Canada’s proposed seismic survey could have an impact on the migration patterns of bluefin tuna off the coast of Nova Scotia, the federal Fisheries Department says.

A department official has told the industry regulator that the global energy giant should have a more detailed plan to avoid interfering with migrating tuna, or the midshore fishery, on the Scotian Shelf.

“New information on bluefin tuna migrations indicate that they travel along the shelf edge during the same time as the proposed seismic activity,” Donald Humphrey said Wednesday in an email to the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board.

Humphrey, with the habitat management division, also said department staff have heard from several area fisherman who have asked Shell for more information about the seismic program but have not had a response.

“I would like to emphasize the importance of engaging these stakeholders,” the filing says.

Calgary-based Shell, a subsidiary of the Dutch oil and gas company, plans to start a 3-D seismic survey program of six deepwater blocks. The parcels are located about 350 kilometres south of Halifax.

Shell wants to explore almost 12,200 square kilometres of an area known as the Shelburne Basin.

The wide-azimuth surveys, part of a $1-billion exploration program planned over six years, will help the company examine the basin for potential drilling sites.

The survey program will run from April to September, with more work scheduled during the same time frame in 2014.

The 3-D surveys involve several vessels towing air-gun source arrays, with the two outer vessels also towing streamers.

While DFO has raised concerns about bluefin tuna, an Eastern Shore fisherman said Friday he’s concerned about the possible impact the survey could have on the snow crab fishery.

Peter Connors said scientific studies about the potential impact of seismic work on fish species have been inconclusive.

“The scientists aren’t prepared to say that it does cause any harm. It may or may not. We really don’t know,” the Sober Island fisherman said.

Connors, who is president of the Eastern Shore Fishermen’s Protective Association, also fishes lobster and halibut, which is another species found in the deepwater area that Shell wants to be explore.

Because the survey work would take several months, fishermen are also talking to Shell about minimizing the seismic program’s impact on various fisheries, he said.

A spokesman for aboriginal fishermen in Truro said the seismic work would also be done in an area that has swordfishing.

“They are aware of the longliners and are addressing that issue,” Roger Hunka, director of the Maritime Aboriginal Aquatic Resources Secretariat, said of the dialogue swordfisherman are having with Shell.

A Shell spokesman said the company has consulted with fisheries representatives and will continue to do so.

“We have made efforts to provide project information regularly and respond to any questions or concerns,” Stephen Doolan said in an email.

The board said earlier this week that it takes all stakeholder comments into account in deciding on the survey plan.

http://thechronicleherald.ca/business/911706-ottawa-shell-survey-could-affect-bluefin-tuna

Share Button

A Deaf Whale is a Dead Whale: Seismic Airgun Testing for Oil and Gas Threatens Marine Life and Coastal Economies ~ new report from Oceana

May 3rd, 2013

From the US based group Oceana.org

According to government estimates, 138,500 whales and dolphins will soon be injured and possibly killed along the East Coast if exploration companies are allowed to use dangerous blasts of noise to search for offshore oil and gas.seismic_report_cover

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) is considering allowing geophysical companies, working on behalf of oil and gas companies, to use seismic airguns to search for offshore oil and gas in the Atlantic Ocean, from Delaware to Florida. These airguns use compressed air to generate intense pulses of sound, which are 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine.

These loud blasts are used on a recurring basis, going off every ten seconds, for 24 hours a day, often for weeks on end. They are so loud that they penetrate through the ocean, and miles into the seafloor, then bounce back, bringing information to the surface about the location of buried oil and gas deposits.

Airgun blasts harm whales, dolphins, sea turtles and fish. The types of impacts marine mammals may endure include temporary and permanent hearing loss, abandonment of habitat, disruption of mating and feeding, beach strandings and even death. Seismic airguns could devastate marine life, and harm fisheries and coastal economies along the Atlantic coast. Seismic testing in the Atlantic would also be the first major step toward offshore drilling, which further harms the marine environment through leaks, oil spills, habitat destruction and greenhouse gas emissions.

This seismic testing, and all of the consequences that may ensue, are unnecessary because there cannot be any drilling in the Atlantic for at least the next five years, and oil and gas companies already own undeveloped leases on millions of acres of federal lands and water.

Follow the conversation on Twitter at #seismic

Watch this short video – What is Seismic Airgun Testing?

Download a copy of “A Deaf Whale is a Dead Whale: Seismic Airgun Testing for Oil and Gas Threatens Marine Life and Coastal Economies” (PDF)
***************************************************************************

Click here to learn more about seismic testing in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

Share Button

What is Seismic Airgun Testing?

April 26th, 2013

Oceana, a US based organization, explains seismic testing in this short, but potent video.

Share Button

Australian fishermen blame costly tuna and scallop losses on seismic testing

April 25th, 2013

Seismic testing in fishers’ sights
Sydney Morning Herald
Andrew Darby
April 24, 2013 – 4:33PM

Commercial fishers are asking for seismic testing in Australian waters to be declared an environmental threat, in a move opposed by the petroleum industry.

The fishers were spurred to act by costly losses including Bass Strait scallop mortality and disrupted migration of southern bluefin tuna, which they blamed on seismic testing.

The Commonwealth Fisheries Association is taking up a tool used against fishers in the past, and asking the federal government to declare seismic testing a key threatening process.

Seismic arrays towed behind vessels fire airguns to bounce bubbles off the seabed and return a profile of the geology beneath.

Testing by Geoscience Victoria for possible carbon storage below Bass Strait in 2010 is alleged to have cost scallop fishers 24,000 tonnes of the shellfish, worth $70 million.

“No other abnormal factor could have caused the deaths of these scallops,” said Bob Lister, executive director of the Tasmanian Scallop Fishermen’s Association.

A southern bluefin tuna survey in the Great Australian Bight to set fishing quotas for the threatened species showed numbers crashing at the same time BP conducted a seismic survey there for oil and gas.

“This was exactly the period when bluefin were on their migratory path,” said Brian Jeffriess, chief executive of the Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association.

“They absolutely collapsed from around 22,000 tonnes to 3000 tonnes, and this year the raw data shows they are back up to 22,000 tonnes,” Mr Jeffriess said. “Fishers rightly say to me that it must be the seismic [testing].”

In BP’s Bight exploration program, the vessel Ramform Sterling towed 12 streamers, each eight kilometres long, making it Earth’s largest man-made moving object, the company said.

Together with scallops and bluefin, the CFA has nominated seven other species that could become vulnerable or more highly endangered: black jewfish, arrow squid, scampi, blue warehou, orange roughy, gemfish and the loggerhead turtle.

The CFA’s chairman, Martin Exel, said there was enough anecdotal and scientific evidence to seek a determination from the government that seismic testing did have an impact, requiring its use to take fishers into account.

“For whales and other cetaceans, already there is no question that they are considered,” Mr Exel said. “A human is not even supposed to be in the water within five miles of seismic testing.”

In Canada, seismic surveys must be planned to avoid dispersing spawning or migratory fish.

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association said it was surprised by the nomination, which was not supported by evidence or science.

“In fact, more than five decades of experience and research shows no evidence that sound from oil and gas exploration activities causes injury to marine species or ecological communities or behavioural effects that would affect the viability of any marine animal population,” an APPEA spokesman said.

“And unlike the activities of other industries [such as fishing itself], there is no scientific evidence that would suggest oil and gas exploration activity has detrimental impacts on fisheries or fish stocks.”

The CFA’s application has been lodged with the government’s threatened species scientific committee, which will consider making a recommendation to Environment Minister Tony Burke.

http://www.smh.com.au/environment/seismic-testing-in-fishers-sights-20130424-2iepk.html

Share Button

Why NS should protect Gulf waters

March 20th, 2013

Minister makes “inaccurate” comments in meeting
March 20, 2013
Advocate (Pictou, NS)

To the Editor re: “Oil spill, clean up report raises Gulf group’s fears” (Advocate March 6, 2013), I want to correct inaccurate comments made by Energy Minister Charlie Parker.

1) “Parker acknowledges that Gorman was given considerable time to discuss the moratorium.”
 For the record, my first question was not about the Gulf of St. Lawrence moratorium. I asked Parker what he intends to do about the billion dollar Shell lease he has approved on NS’s Scotian Shelf. The seismic program for this lease, beginning next month, is for four to six months from April to September each year for the next six years, during fishing seasons, spawning, bluefin tuna migration etc. It covers over a million hectares of ocean bottom. We’ve been told that in a few years, there will only be two populations left on the Scotian Shelf – gray seals and oil rigs. (WARNING: Our Gulf could be next).

2) The ‘considerable time’ Parker refers to, was three minutes. So I guess Gulf NS’s inshore breeding grounds are only worth three minutes of discussion at NDP gov’t public meetings. To be fair, our coalition did meet privately for 25 minutes with the county’s three NDP MLA’s about protecting our Gulf. But we were only able to cover one page of our presentation because these MLAs are not good listeners. 
In contrast, MP Peter MacKay met with us for one hour and 20 minutes, listened intently, asked intelligent questions, acknowledged the danger of risking sensitive breeding areas and renewable multi-billion dollar fishery and tourism industries, only to access short term fossil fuels. He agreed to follow up on it.

3) “‘Parker also said the province has made no decision on a moratorium in the Gulf.’ “In reality, we don’t have a position,” he said.’ 
We’re relieved he is backtracking. But at the Antigonish meeting Parker, Deputy Minister Coolican and MLA Maurice Smith were asked if the NDP would support a moratorium in Gulf NS. All 3 said “NO”. (It’s on the public record).

In ‘reality’, Parker signed a petition a decade ago for a moratorium in our Gulf when we were fighting shoreline leases on Cape Breton Island. Perhaps, because he knows the Gulf of St. Lawrence has the largest lobster production in the world. But “little or no information is available… on lobster larval distribution and settlement” * according to DFO scientists.

Gulf fishers are also worried about herring if oil and gas proceeds. Since 20 years after the Exxon Valdez disaster, there is still no herring fishery where that oil spill happened in Alaska.
 DFO scientists have stated “every month of the year molting, spawning, egg hatching, larvae, feeding, migration, juveniles, adults, and planktonic stages are happening”.*

This is why Canada’s Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans in their report on Canada’s Oceans Act (October 2001) stated “it may be prudent to consider placing this region under an oil and gas moratorium similar to that on the Georges Bank region”.

So why are we fighting this same battle 10 years later?

It is ironic that before Parker was elected, he supported a moratorium. But now that he has the power as Energy Minister to implement one, he chooses to squander this privilege and unique opportunity to protect those who put their faith in him.
 What a kick in the head to Gulf inshore fishers who have a long history as leaders in conservation of their own stocks. They do so, knowing that if they protect their fish, we will continue to have a fishery sustaining hundreds of coastal communities and tens of thousands of jobs in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. 
Unless, of course, it is destroyed by others.

*DFO Maritime Provinces Regional Habitat Status Report 2001

Mary Gorman, 
Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition
, Merigomish

Share Button

Shell seismic survey could affect bluefin tuna (Chronicle Herald)

March 8th, 2013

Ottawa: Shell survey could affect bluefin tuna
March 8, 2013
Chronicle Herald
By Joann Alberstat

Shell Canada’s proposed seismic survey could have an impact on the migration patterns of bluefin tuna off the coast of Nova Scotia, the federal Fisheries Department says.

A department official has told the industry regulator that the global energy giant should have a more detailed plan to avoid interfering with migrating tuna, or the midshore fishery, on the Scotian Shelf.

“New information on bluefin tuna migrations indicate that they travel along the shelf edge during the same time as the proposed seismic activity,” Donald Humphrey said Wednesday in an email to the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board.

Humphrey, with the habitat management division, also said department staff have heard from several area fisherman who have asked Shell for more information about the seismic program but have not had a response.

“I would like to emphasize the importance of engaging these stakeholders,” the filing says.

Calgary-based Shell, a subsidiary of the Dutch oil and gas company, plans to start a 3-D seismic survey program of six deepwater blocks. The parcels are located about 350 kilometres south of Halifax.

Shell wants to explore almost 12,200 square kilometres of an area known as the Shelburne Basin.

The wide-azimuth surveys, part of a $1-billion exploration program planned over six years, will help the company examine the basin for potential drilling sites.

The survey program will run from April to September, with more work scheduled during the same time frame in 2014.

The 3-D surveys involve several vessels towing air-gun source arrays, with the two outer vessels also towing streamers.

While DFO has raised concerns about bluefin tuna, an Eastern Shore fisherman said Friday he’s concerned about the possible impact the survey could have on the snow crab fishery.

Peter Connors said scientific studies about the potential impact of seismic work on fish species have been inconclusive.

“The scientists aren’t prepared to say that it does cause any harm. It may or may not. We really don’t know,” the Sober Island fisherman said.

Connors, who is president of the Eastern Shore Fishermen’s Protective Association, also fishes lobster and halibut, which is another species found in the deepwater area that Shell wants to be explore.

Because the survey work would take several months, fishermen are also talking to Shell about minimizing the seismic program’s impact on various fisheries, he said.

A spokesman for aboriginal fishermen in Truro said the seismic work would also be done in an area that has swordfishing.

“They are aware of the longliners and are addressing that issue,” Roger Hunka, director of the Maritime Aboriginal Aquatic Resources Secretariat, said of the dialogue swordfisherman are having with Shell.

A Shell spokesman said the company has consulted with fisheries representatives and will continue to do so.

“We have made efforts to provide project information regularly and respond to any questions or concerns,” Stephen Doolan said in an email.

The board said earlier this week that it takes all stakeholder comments into account in deciding on the survey plan.

http://thechronicleherald.ca/business/911706-ottawa-shell-survey-could-affect-bluefin-tuna#.UT_QRJKNgMY.facebook

Share Button

Gulf NS Herring Federation and SOSS submission to Strategic Environmental Assessment

October 22nd, 2012

Gulf NS Herring and SOSS Sea submission – CNLOPB – 3

Submission to Western NL Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) by Gulf NS Herring Federation and Save Our Seas and Shores, October 22, 2012. Authors Greg Egilsson (President – Gulf NS Herring Federation) and Mary Gorman (Save Our Seas and Shores). The 5 page submission critiques the flawed public process, which falls far short of what Environment Minister Peter Kent ordered, and addresses:

  • the historical involvement of Save Our Seas and Shores in protecting the Gulf from oil and gas development
  • background facts on the inshore fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence
  • precautionary principle
  • current science and knowledge gaps about the ecosystem
  • mitigation myths
Share Button

Drilling for oil in the Gulf of St. Lawrence without a clue (Toronto Star editorial)

August 5th, 2012

Drilling for oil in the Gulf of St. Lawrence without a clue
Toronto Star
August 05, 2012

Buried within the more than 400 pages of this spring’s federal omnibus budget bill is an invitation for resource companies to open a new frontier in Canadian oil: the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The gulf, which touches the coastlines of Canada’s five easternmost provinces, is the world’s largest estuary. It’s home to more than 2,000 species of marine wildlife — an ecosystem integral to the health of our Atlantic and Great Lakes fisheries.

Now, due to measures deep in the federal budget, that ecosystem may be under threat. The bill explicitly highlights the region’s potential for petroleum extraction and includes amendments to the Coasting Trade Act that give oil companies greater access to exploration vessels.

Corridor Resources Inc., a small Halifax-based company, is seeking to take advantage of the budget’s deregulation by applying to drill the first-ever deep-water well in the gulf. It’s just what the budget bill sought — and just what scientists and concerned citizens in the region have been fighting for years.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May sounded the alarm last week, warning Canadians about the dangers of the project. A spill in the gulf would be a particular disaster, scientists who accompanied her said, because, due to the estuary’s counterclockwise tidal currents, it empties into the Atlantic only once per year. That means oil would almost certainly reach five coastlines, affecting land and livelihoods in all provinces touching on the gulf.

Even if no oil is spilled, the seismic method of exploration that Corridor proposes can be disfiguring or deadly for the gulf’s inhabitants.

“Marine mammals and fish are highly impacted by seismic surveys,” said Lindy Weilgart, a biologist at Dalhousie University. “To carry out this destruction in as productive and biologically rich an area as the gulf is madness.”

Of course, there’s a debate to be had about how to negotiate between the economic benefits and environmental hazards of offshore oil. But for defenders of the gulf, it seems no debate is available.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, which is responsible for evaluating Corridor’s proposal by July 2013, will have no way of measuring the nature or extent of the environmental risks. The budget rescinded the requirement for environmental assessments of exploratory drilling and crippled the Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research, the federal agency best equipped to deliver such assessments.

The federal government has picked oil and brushed aside concerns about the environment — and all this buried within the behemoth budget bill. If the government insists that we risk a rich and important ecosystem for the prospect of underwater oil, it should not be allowed to sneak that choice past us in a footnote.

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/article/1236963–drilling-for-oil-in-the-gulf-of-st-lawrence-without-a-clue

Share Button

The Gulf of St. Lawrence will soon hear oil industry’s boom: Greens ( iPolitics)

August 2nd, 2012

The Gulf of St. Lawrence will soon hear oil industry’s boom: Greens

James Munson
iPolitics.ca
2 August 2012

Over the phone, Lindy Weilgart plays a recording of the sonic blasts oil companies use to explore for fossil fuels beneath the seabed.

The muffled low-frequency buzz sounds ominous but much quieter than what a whale or a dolphin, which use sounds to mate and hunt, would hear in the ocean, said Weilgart, an internationally recognized expert in the field at Dalhousie University.

“These are extremely high pressure air guns that release an amount of air, and that cause a hugely loud sound,” said Weilgart.

The sound of the air gun’s explosion has to travel through the ocean, then through hundreds of kilometers of bedrock and finally all the way back up to the surface, where it’s recorded.

The Gulf of St. Lawrence, an inland sea home to blue whales, humpback whales, belugas and countless kinds of fish, has remained largely free of these sounds in the past.

But things are about to get loud, said Weilgart.

As part of Ottawa’s push to boost Canada’s petroleum sector, the contentious spring budget included measures to turn the Gulf into a new oil frontier despite little success in the past and worries among coastal communities in four provinces that an oil slick could destroy fisheries and ecosystems. The budget measures received royal assent in late June.

Now the federal Green Party is trying to rally opposition to oil and gas exploration. Leader Elizabeth May, who began her own career in environmental advocacy in the Maritimes, hosted a news conference in Halifax this morning on the risks of oil exploration.

“The Gulf of St. Lawrence is inappropriate for oil and gas development,” said May in a phone interview after the news conference. “It should be a no-go zone.”

The Gulf is home to thousands of bird and fish species whose ecosystem would be irrevocably damaged by exploration or an accident, said Mary Gorman, the head of Save our Seas and Shoreline, an activist group focused on oil exploration around Nova Scotia.

The Gulf’s counter-clockwise currents only empty into the Atlantic once a year so an oil spill would spread over five coastlines during that time, she said.

Ottawa named the Gulf by name in its spring budget as a target region for petroleum exploration. The budget also amended the Coasting Trade Act so that foreign seismic exploration vessels can now travel in Canadian waters.

But it’s the Gulf’s environmental regulators that really have the Greens worried.

Four separate regulators work in the Gulf.

The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) govern the waters off those provinces’ coastlines.

The National Energy Board covers pretty much everything else, except for waters off the Quebec coast, which will soon be jointly managed by Ottawa and that province after they signed an agreement in 2011.

At the moment, oil exploration along Quebec appears to be quiet.

The provincial government is currently waiting to finish a study on the effects of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, before allowing a moratorium on the exploration and extraction method to be lifted.

However, the minister in charge of natural resources indicated this week that onshore oil exploration on Anticosti Island, which sits in the northern part of the Gulf, will not be subject to a moratorium.

Most near-term conflicts over exploration will likely occur closer to the Atlantic provinces, where past exploration has taken place.

There is currently only one viable exploration site in the Gulf, Old Harry, off the southeastern coast of Newfoundland & Labrador, which received and environmental assessment from the CNLOPB last October.

“No significant residual adverse environmental effects, including cumulative environmental effects, will occur as a result of the Project,” says the assessment, which was outsourced to Stantec, an engineering firm.

The CNSOPB and the CNLOPB, created in the aftermath of petroleum discoveries off those provinces’ coastlines in the Atlantic Ocean, don’t have the technical capacity to perform environmental assessments, said Gorman.

“By the terms of their creation, they exist to promote offshore oil and gas exploration,” she said. “The idea that they’re going to do rigorous assessments is a joke.”

And, on top of that, Canada’s policy on seismic exploration and marine animals is not protective enough for a region teeming with as much wildlife as the Gulf, said Weilgart, the expert on marine animals and seismic blasts.

“Canada’s policy is appalling,” said Weilgart, who provided advice to the federal government in 2005 when the policy on the issue was created.

In Australia, if a seismic exploration vessel spots a marine mammal two kilometers away, it has to stop blasting, she said.

In Canada, that same condition kicks in only if the vessel spots a whale at 400 meters, she said. And it only applies to endangered species.

“It’s not precautionary at all,” said Weilgart,

Share Button