CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)— The fight to protect South Carolina’s marine life and coastal economy from seismic blasting is ramping up today after more than a dozen of our coastal communities and small businesses submitted a joint comment letter to state officials.
“I’m very excited about it. Its good to hear that steps are being taken,” Jerald Grenier, local fishing instructor said.
Jerald Grenier talking about the steps taken to oppose seismic blasting off our coast after 16 coastal communities along with the S.C. Small Business Chamber submit a joint comment letter to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
“There have been coasts already devastated by this. Do we want our Lowcountry to be devastated as well?” Grenier said.
In the letter sent to DHEC, Charleston, Folly Beach, Mount Pleasant, James Island, and a dozen other municipalities speak out against the WesternGeco company that has requested the State’s authorization to conduct seismic blasting off South Carolina’s coast in search of oil and gas deposit. They say that it would have a negative effect on marine life.
“You have species like Red Drum, Spotted Sea Trout and stuff, they are in the Drum family, and they move up and down the coast. These fish are dependent on sound, drumming sounds. If they get disoriented in any way, they will not approach, will not even come into the harbor. If they are disoriented, they are going to swim off,” Grenier said.
The Executive Director of the S.C Environmental Law Project, Amy Armstrong, who represents the voices in the letter to DHEC says they are concerned that seismic blasting would negatively affect our economy.
“Businesses that run eco-tourism adventures, taking people out to see dolphins. You drive dolphins away those eco-tourisms businesses suffer. You drive fish away, commercial fisheries suffer. The recreational tourists and fisherman that come out to recreationally fish don’t have fish. So, it harms us in all of those ways,” Armstrong said.
DHEC has provided a statement about the proposed seismic activities in the WesternGeco application saying, “DHEC has been granted limited authority by NOAA to review certain federal permit applications for seismic activities to determine whether those activities are consistent with the state’s coastal management policies. DHEC’s review of these applications is limited to two specific elements: the potential impacts of the seismic surveying on sea turtles and on commercial and recreational fisheries.”
DHEC says that it will evaluate the comments from the coastal communities and small businesses, as well as other comments & information submitted during the past 30-day comment period, to determine if WesternGeco’s proposed seismic activities are consistent with the enforceable policies of the S.C. Coastal Management program.