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Brunswick Business Journal Staff Report
 
December 14, 2018 - Leading environmental groups have sued the federal government to prevent seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean. The lawsuit, filed in South Carolina, claims that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act when it issued Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHAs) in late November. Those permits authorize five companies to harm or harass marine mammals while conducting seismic airgun blasting in an area twice the size of California, stretching from Cape May, New Jersey to Cape Canaveral, Florida. 
 
“With a vibrant commercial fishery industry and the only known calving ground for endangered North Atlantic right whales just off our coast, Georgians oppose seismic testing for offshore oil exploration and the threats it poses to our state’s wildlife, wild places, and quality of life,” said Alice Keyes, vice president at One Hundred Miles. “Our coastal communities have spoken out for years against seismic testing and offshore drilling because they understand what’s at stake — risks to our coastal economy and wildlife ranging from right whales to zooplankton. We are proud to stand with our fellow Georgians and thousands of others across the East Coast in opposition to this dangerous plan.”
 
“This action is unlawful and we’re going to stop it,” said Diane Hoskins, campaign director at Oceana. “The Trump administration’s rash decision to harm marine mammals hundreds of thousands of times in the hope of finding oil and gas is shortsighted and dangerous. Seismic airgun blasting can harm everything from tiny zooplankton and fish to dolphins and whales. More than 90 percent of the coastal municipalities in the blast zone have publicly opposed seismic airgun blasting off their coast. We won this fight before and we’ll win it again.”
 
The government has estimated that seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic could harass or harm marine mammals like dolphins and whales — which depend on sound to feed, mate, and communicate — hundreds of thousands of times. Seismic airgun blasting would also jeopardize the iconic North Atlantic right whale, a critically endangered species, according to 28 leading right whale experts.
 
Opposition and concern over offshore drilling activities in the Atlantic includes:
Governors of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire
More than 240 East Coast state municipalities
Over 1,500 local, state and federal bipartisan officials
An alliance representing over 42,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families
All three East Coast Fishery Management Councils
Commercial and recreational fishing interests such as Southeastern Fisheries Association, Snook and Gamefish Foundation, Fisheries Survival Fund, Southern Shrimp Alliance, Billfish Foundation, and International Game Fish Association
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