Protected marine species are at risk from oil and gas exploration off the Welsh coast.
The Wildlife Trusts in Wales are extremely concerned about plans for Eni UK Limited to conduct seismic surveys in the Irish Sea over 40 days throughout the summer. The surveys, due to commence in June, are being carried out to identify the presence and extent of potential oil and gas reserves. The Wildlife Trusts say that the area has been subject to extensive seismic surveys in the past which have previously shown no viable commercial quantities of hydrocarbons in the area. Quite apart from this fact, the Welsh Government Policy is for no extraction of fossil fuels and has recently declared a Climate Emergency. The area identified for surveying will impact on three marine SACs (Special Areas of Conservation), one of which was designated primarily to protect the Cardigan Bay bottlenose dolphin population and all of which are important areas for Harbour porpoises.
Nia Jones, Living Seas Manager for the North Wales Wildlife Trust said:
“It has long been known that seismic surveys, which create intensive sound underwater, can be extremely harmful to marine mammals and other wildlife. Man-made noise such as this can damage their hearing, their ability to communicate, disrupt their behaviour and cause extreme stress and because of this we strongly oppose this proposal”
Dr Sarah Perry, Living Seas Manager for The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales added:
“The timing of the proposed survey is in the middle of the breeding period for these protected species when there is a serious risk of the young, who are far more susceptible to disturbance, being separated from their mothers.”
The Bottlenose dolphins in Cardigan Bay are one of only two semi-resident populations in the UK. Staff and volunteers at the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC) in New Quay have been monitoring the Bottlenose dolphins and other marine mammals in Cardigan Bay for over 20 years and are seriously concerned about the effects the seismic activity will have on the marine life in Cardigan Bay and the wider Irish Sea.