RFA Urges Friday Fax Campaign Against Jersey Shore Seismic Study
Earlier this month, the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) sent a nationwide email alert related to the scheduling of a seismic testing program just 15 miles off the New Jersey coast scheduled to begin on June 3. The seismic testing incorporates high-energy, seismic blasting by way of four- and eight-airgun arrays that will produce sound levels of up to 253 decibels fired in an alternating sequence every 5 seconds.
Approved by the Obama administration as a climate change study designed to access deep sea sediments, the seismic blasting study off the Jersey Coast is being run by Rutgers University and is expected to last 30 days and cover 230 square miles of ocean, and coincides with critical fish and marine mammal migration periods along the Jersey Shore.
Members of the recreational for-hire fleet, as well as local commercial fishermen and a host of environmental organizations including Clean Ocean Action are fearful of the potential impacts on local marine life posed by the seismic airgun blasts. A press conference and rally will be held on Friday, May 23 at 11 a.m. at the Fishermen’s Dock Cooperative on Channel Drive in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ.
RFA is also encouraging its members and supporters to participate in a coordinated Friday fax campaign (click here for letter) to encourage the United States Department of Interior to suspend the study until the winter months when the impact on marine life and coastal businesses will be less intrusive.
RFA executive director Jim Donofrio has spoken to numerous state and federal officials about the timing of the seismic study, and there’s not one elected official from New Jersey who supports the Obama administration’s plan to blast away marine life at the kickoff to the summer season.
“The problem here is that the ultimate decision to begin this invasive research has been made in Washington DC in the U.S. Department of the Interior, and only the Secretary of Interior and the President himself can delay this study until another time,” Donofrio said.
“New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the state Department of Environmental Protection have made a great argument to suspend the operation, and we’ve talked to members of Congress and the U.S. Senate, inboth parties, about getting something done at the top, but it’s simply not going to happen unless enough constituents get involved,” Donofrio added. “This isn’t a partisan issue, it’s just a simple fact, only President Obama can decide whether or not this explosive study will take place in June or later in the winter.”
In addition to being a seasonal disruption of migration patterns for many marine species, a recent study in the Journal of Acoustical Society of America has confirmed that seismic airguns used in similar underwater oil exploration efforts have also damaged the auditory organs of fish. By simply rescheduling the timing of this study to the winter months of January and February, RFA believes the Obama administration can greatly minimize impacts of the blasting plan.
The Recreational Fishing Alliance is urging all saltwater anglers and concerned citizens to take time from their schedule on Friday, May 23, 2014, to send a fax to Secretary of the Interior, Ms. Sally Jewell, urging her assistance in postponing the study. Click here to download the PDF, and then fill in your name and address, sign the document, and fax to the Secretary’s attention at 202-208-5133.
An online petition has been created by Clean Ocean Action which is almost at 15,000 signatures, but Donofrio said a Friday fax campaign to the U.S. Department of Interior could help spread the word quickly within the administration.
“The Secretary of Interior can help suspend this job-killing survey, but only if the President himself wants that to happen,” Donofrio said. “It’s a pretty easy rescheduling fix, and if doesn’t happen it’s only because President Obama didn’t want it to happen or refused to listen to coastal stakeholders, it’s really that simple.”