The Rutgers University recently received a request from the new Jersey Senate President and a congressman representing the Jersey shore to cancel planned research which includes blasting the ocean floor with sound waves.
The research is set to begin in June off Long Beach Island and comes post an aborted attempts to do the tests last summer that wound up in court.
Rutgers, the National Science Foundation and the University of Texas want to do research on sediments deposited on the ocean floor for studying climate change. The plan is to complete a three dimensional map of part of the ocean floor by studying the resulting of changing sea levels globally, dating back 60 million years.
But opponents say it also could be a precursor to drilling for oil and gas off New Jersey’s coast, which is not allowed.
“The seismic blasts are not only a threat to New Jersey’s environment resources, they can be disruptive and damaging to commercial and recreational fishing, which are extremely important to the state’s economy, its tourism industry and our quality of life,” the lawmakers wrote. “Rutgers is our state’s flagship university and should aspire to be a good state citizen by minimizing negative impacts to our residents, businesses and the environment. Rutgers is leading this study, so Rutgers can stop it.”
Although the federal environmental authorities have grant plans to advance this year, the New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection opposes the testing.
The executive director of the Clean Ocean Action environmental group, Cindy Zipf has been leading in the movement against the testing. She says that the proposed testing will affect 26 times the animals affected than what was done in the previous year before a mechanical breakdown halted the project in its infancy.
“We are on the cusp of Memorial Day weekend, and these legislators are coming to the rescue of the ocean,” she said. “The gauntlet has been thrown down to Rutgers.”
If the research cannot be forfeited, then they should at least rescheduled it for the fall when it is less likely to affect marine life which includes six endangered species, they wrote.