Go ahead for new UK oil and gas exploration threatens whales and dolphins - Whale and Dolphin Conservation

Permission has been granted for the development of the UK’s biggest untapped oilfield off Shetland, a decision which will exacerbate the climate crisis and result in the use of damaging and harmful activities within areas known to be critical to whales and dolphins.

(image: Whale and Dolphin Conservation)
(image: Whale and Dolphin Conservation)

Norwegian listed company Equinor, and the British firm Ithaca Energy will now develop the Rosebank oil and gas field in the North Sea, a move that casts more doubt on the UK government’s commitments on climate.

The decision to give the go-ahead for this development is extremely worrying. The waters to the north and west of the UK (and Shetland) are an international migratory corridor for species of whale who breed in high latitude waters to the north of the UK. One area, the Faroe-Shetland Channel, is between 1-2 km deep and important for deep diving species such as beaked and sperm whales (which are known to be particularly sensitive to loud noise), as well as other smaller species such as Risso’s dolphins, and pilot whales, and migratory species of large blue, fin and humpback whales.

Oil and gas exploration and exploitation activities introduce high levels of underwater noise and increases in vessel traffic. Loud underwater noise pollution presents huge threats to whales and dolphins. For whales and dolphins, ‘listening’ is as important as ‘seeing’ is for humans, as they live in a world of water and sound. Noise in the water threatens whale and dolphin populations, interrupting their normal behaviour, driving them away from areas important to their survival and at worst injuring or sometimes even causing their deaths.

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Posted On: 28/09/2023

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