The US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) said on Monday it is seeking permits for five energy companies to use air guns for seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean, according to the Associated Press.
NMFS, a government agency responsible for stewardship of marine resources, is applying for the permits under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
It is part of the process that started in April when US President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at expanding drilling for hydrocarbons in the Atlantic and the Arctic.
Energy industry groups had called for surveys near potential drilling sites in an offshore area between Delaware and Central Florida. Seismic surveys have not been conducted there for 30 years so the oil and gas firms say they need them to update data.
NMFS would be involved to monitor and mitigate any negative effects on marine life and habitats caused by the air guns used in the seismic surveys.
Environmentalists, coastal communities and businesses have expressed concern about the air guns, which fire intense blasts of compressed air every 10 to 12 seconds, all day long for weeks or months.