While the new French government announced a legislative initiative to ban further oil exploration, a similar initiative in Spain was blocked by the government. Further details in today’s press release by OceanCare.
Marine conservation: France stops oil exploration
Spanish government vetoes nature conservation measures
Wädenswil/Wien, 26 June 2017: On Friday, 23 June 2017, French environment and energy minister Nicolas Hulot announced to stop the exploration and exploitation of new hydrocarbon sources in France and its overseas territories. A draft bill is to undergo consultation this autumn already. Contrariwise, in a last-minute decision last Friday, the Spanish government blocked a legislative initiative by the parliament which intended to ban oil exploration in the Spanish part of the Mediterranean Sea.
The Spanish legislative initiative had been passed by the local government of the Baleares already weeks ago and found approval by the majority of Spanish members of parliament. However, on the last possible day, the conservative government led by the Partido Popular issued a veto and blocked the initiative.
A range of civil society initiatives in Spain call for an end to oil exploration and exploitation in national waters, as it conflicts with tourism interests, the aims of the Paris climate accord, as well as species conservation.
“We now hope for the Spanish government to use the free play of forces to overcome the government’s blockade and to follow the French example”, says Nicolas Entrup, campaigner for the international marine conservation NGOs OceanCare and NRDC which, together with local Balearic initiative Alianza Mar Blava, fight against licences for dangerous seismic explorations.
During marine seismic oil exploration, so-called sound cannons (airguns) emit explosive sound of up to 260 dB every 10 to 12 seconds over several weeks in order to gain image representation of the sea floor. Since 2013, all applications for licences by the oil industry have been defeated.
“Employing sound cannons is extremely dangerous. It affects not only sensitive marine mammal species, but also zooplankton”, says Sigrid Lüber, president of OceanCare.
Australian scientists last week published new data on the impact of seismic activities on zooplankton in the magazine Nature Ecology & Evolution. A decline of zooplankton biomass by two thirds was documented following the use of airguns off Tasmania. The sound burst creates a 2-kilometre-wide “hole” in the zooplankton population, scientists said.