Canadian Arctic to be free of seismic blasting this year
Wednesday, April 6, 2016, 4:21 PM - Seismic blasting will come to a halt in the Canadian Arctic this year, leaving the waters of Baffin Bay and Davis Strait free from the harmful impacts of offshore drilling.
On April 1, the conglomerate of seismic companies announced that they won’t go through with their 2016 plans to search for oil and gas by blasting the Arctic seabed.
"We are relieved to hear that seismic companies will not enter Inuit waters this year to threaten Arctic marine life and further exacerbate food insecurity in the North,” says Greenpeace Arctic campaigner Farrah Khan. “Inuit did not consent to this project and we will continue to support them in their fight until their voices are heard and their rights are respected."
The announcement came weeks after the Nunavut settlement of Clyde River finally saw their case against seismic testing reach the Supreme Court of Canada. Clyde River’s case is a historic one, being the first case from Nunavut to be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.
“We’re encouraged by what Prime Minister Trudeau has said regarding prioritizing the Inuit to Crown relationship, but so far the new Liberal government has been silent on Clyde River’s fight, and they remain an opponent in the case,” Khan says.
More than 300,000 of Clyde River’s worldwide supporters wrote letters to the Prime Minister and National Energy Board’s Chair regarding the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Arctic environment.
Though not a definitive solution, the halt momentarily keeps marine wildlife safe from the various dangerous of seismic blasts.
Environmental impacts of seismic blasting
Seismic blasting occurs when seismic air guns or cannons create blasts deep under the ocean floor. A preliminary measure in offshore drilling, these blasts are used to help find potential oil and gas deposits.
Seismic air guns are transported behind ships and fire loud blasts of compressed air through the water, Oceana reports. These blasts travel kilometres into the seabed and reflect back information about buried oil and gas sources.
The process calls for several blasts repeated in ten second intervals, 24 hours a day, for several days and even weeks at a time, Oceana adds. These blasts are notorious for the impact they have on marine wildlife. Among the most troubling, seismic blasts can kill eggs and larvae, scare fish away from vital habitats, and induce hearing loss in marine mammals (leading to strandings or death.)
Seismic blasts have the potential to injure up to 138,000 whales and dolphins, while disrupting the lives of millions more.
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Graphic courtesy of The Center for Biological Diversity.