Oil exploration in paradise sounds alarm bells

Swiss non-profit organisation OceanCare presented over 10,000 signatures on Wednesday against plans to step up offshore oil exploration in the Maldives, warning against the damages caused by underwater noise pollution to the marine ecosystem. April 29th was International Noise Awareness Day.

The Maldives National Oil Company (MNOC) intends to use air guns for seismic explorations in its search for oil around the coral reefs of the Maldives. “By handing over more than 10,000 signatures of protest today, we clearly demonstrate the growing public pressure. We call on the government to rethink their plans”, says Sigrid Lüber, president of OceanCare, a Swiss non-profit organisation that works for the protection of oceans and marine life.

The development of oil resources in sensitive areas is highly risky, threatening not only the environment but also vital economic sectors – especially tourism and fisheries – and thus the livelihood of the Maldivian population, says Lüber. Oil explorations expose the seafloor to deafening noises of up to 260 decibels every 10 to 15 seconds for weeks or months. Science has long established a correlation between noise and atypical mass strandings of marine mammals and changes in behaviour and migration patterns.

Marine conservations have hope that their protests will lead to positive change. Similar public protests against oil developments in the waters off the Canary Islands prompted the Spanish petroleum company Repsol to withdraw from the region. Also last year the Spanish government rejected a request by a petroleum company to search for oil south of Malaga citing environmental concerns.


Photo credit: Nic Adler, flickr/Creative Commons

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