An expert in the acoustics of the ocean and an environmental advocate question whether seismic surveys off the N.C. coast for oil and natural gas can be done without harming marine life or interfering with commercial and recreational fishing.

Michael Stocker is the executive director of Ocean Conservation Research, a nonprofit research and policy development organization in San Francisco. He is a bio-acoustician with a dual background in physics and biology who has studied the interaction of sound with marine animals in the ocean since 1992.

Ladd Bayliss, the coastal advocate for the N.C. Coastal Federation in Manteo, addresses additional impacts that a seismic operation could have to fisheries activities and marine life.

What are your concerns for fisheries and marine mammals with seismic surveys in the Atlantic?

Eight companies have active permits in the Atlantic right now. The main concern in all of this is that all these companies have overlapping survey areas. Which means that, because they’re overlapping, they’re going to potentially occur in the same place, and possibly at the same time. So, I think there are two main issues. One is the access issue – what kind of problems will we see with other industries that are already operating in the ocean and will continue to need to operate in the ocean during these surveys. And then what kind of impacts will there be to marine life? A piece of it that is less studied than impacts on marine mammals is impacts on fisheries. Other living things in the ocean can be adversely impacted by one survey, and especially by the eight that may happen.

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