Oceana’s analysis reveals sensitive species and habitats most at risk from California oil spill – YubaNet
Oceana today released a new analysis identifying some of the most endangered and vulnerable species in the wake of the devastating oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach, California. As part of its assessment, Oceana mapped the locations of the ecologically diverse and economically valuable ocean resources most susceptible to petroleum contamination, which she says is critical to understanding the potential implications and informing assessments of resource damage.
“Toxic oil spills do not differentiate the pollution of ocean ecosystems. From the seabed to the ocean surface, the waters off Southern California contain some of the West Coast’s most endangered species and sensitive habitats, ”said Geoff Shester, California Campaign Director and Senior Scientist at Oceana. “While the extent of damage to oiled habitats and wildlife, and the economic implications of the fisheries closure are still ongoing, we hope this analysis will help inform response efforts and be taken into account. account to ensure that the responsible party is fully responsible for damage that could have been avoided. Wildlife and coastal economies cannot continue to be threatened by dangerous offshore drilling. It is high time to permanently protect our coast from offshore drilling.
Oceana’s analysis reveals the following at-risk resources in the vicinity of the oil spill area:
- Commercial fishing: In 2020, the value of commercial fishing landings at the Los Angeles and San Diego fishing ports was $ 27.2 million. The total value of commercial fishing operations to coastal economies when accounting for employment, processing and seafood is many times greater. The most important commercial fisheries in the region include commercial squid, tuna, swordfish, lobster, spotted shrimp, and red sea urchin.
- Recreational fishing: Estimates of the economic contribution of recreational saltwater fishing in Southern California are in the range of $ 1 billion to $ 2 billion per year.
- Cold water coral gardens: Deep-sea corals are not only spectacularly colorful, but are also key nursery areas for recreational and commercial fish species. When oil sinks to the bottom of the sea, it can suffocate and kill corals. There are at least 15 different types of corals off the coast of Southern California that could be affected.
- Blue whale feeding areas: Once in the hundreds of thousands, fewer than 1,500 blue whales remain in the endangered population of the Northeast Pacific. This population uses the waters off Southern California as their primary foraging area. Endangered blue whales travel hundreds of kilometers from Costa Rica to this region until November to feed on krill, tiny shrimp-like animals. Oil spills can cause massive krill kills, threatening blue whales’ main food source and exposing whales to toxic chemicals.
- Gray whale migration route: Gray whales will soon cross these waters on their annual southward migration to their nurseries off Baja, California, with an expected arrival off Southern California in December. From 2019 to 2021, around 500 gray whales stranded along their migration route from Mexico to the Arctic Ocean as a direct result of climate change and this oil spill could exacerbate these impacts.
- Rocky reefs and kelp forests: These habitats are designated by the federal government as “Habitat Areas of Special Concern” because of their sensitivity, rarity and ecological importance to a variety of fish and invertebrates in southern California. This oil spill could suffocate kelp forests, preventing photosynthesis, leading to the death of this critical habitat.
- Important bird area: The National Audubon Society has designated these waters as an important bird area for elegant terns, a species considered vulnerable because its nesting is limited to very few sites. This spill could wipe out one of their only remaining nesting sites in the world and impact their adjacent feeding grounds.
- Coastal wetlands: This area is the most extensive network of coastal wetlands remaining in Southern California, of global importance for biodiversity as well as for many species of seabirds such as brown pelicans, black skimmers, minor terns and terns. elegant. Once inundated with oil, it is impossible to completely remove the oil from these wetlands, which are critical stops along the Pacific Flyway for dozens of migratory bird species.
- Marine reserves and conservation areas: The spill could decimate some of the most pristine habitats off the coast that have been protected by a vast public process over the past decade as state marine reserves and conservation areas: Laguna Beach along with six State Marine Conservation Areas – Bolsa Bay, Bolsa Chica Basin, Upper Newport Bay, Crystal Cove, Laguna Beach, and Dana Point – protect unique marshes and wetlands as well as kelp forests, rocky reefs and sensitive intertidal areas.
- Oceana calls on Congress to permanently protect Florida’s Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf Coast from offshore drilling as part of the Build Back Better Act. A recent Oceana analysis found that ending new leases off the California coast would protect California’s own coastal economy, which collectively supports approximately 654,000 jobs and more than $ 50 billion in GDP. Nationally, the U.S. clean coast economy supports an estimated 3.3 million U.S. jobs and $ 250 billion in GDP.
Oceana’s analysis also found that ending new offshore oil and gas rentals in the United States could prevent over 19 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions as well as over $ 720 billion. damage to people, property and the environment nationwide.
“We need the federal government to stop selling our oceans for offshore drilling and Congress can make this happen in the Build Back Better Act, which is currently under negotiation,” said Diane Hoskins, director campaign at Oceana. “We know oil is toxic. We know we shouldn’t eat it, breathe it, or swim in it. But for marine life, this is not an option when oil spills occur. This disaster is partly due to decisions taken over 30 years ago. It is time to permanently protect our oceans from any new lease of offshore oil and gas. “
To date, opposition and concerns over offshore drilling activities include:
- All governors of the east and west coasts, including Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, California, Oregon and Washington
- Over 390 local municipalities
- Over 2,300 bipartite local, state and federal officials
- East and West Coast alliances representing more than 56,000 companies
- Pacific, New England, South Atlantic and Central Atlantic Fisheries Management Boards
- Over 120 scientists
- Over 80 alumni military leaders
- Commercial and recreational fishing interests such as Southeastern Fisheries Association, Snook and Gamefish Foundation, Fisheries Survival Fund, Billfish Foundation and International Game Fish Association
- California Coastal Commission, California Fish and Game Commission, and California State Lands Commission
- Department of Defense, NASA, US Air Force and Florida Defense Support Task Force
For more information on Oceana’s efforts to stop the expansion of offshore drilling, please Click here.