Offshore oil production is a major concern to global climate change. Its effects directly affect areas practicing oil exploration and other countries bordering the state. Effects include oil spillages, loss of the oceans aesthetic value, emergence of other animal species unfriendly to the environment and seafood insecurity. Sources of environmental degradation include toxic elements, high frequency radiations and infrastructural developments during oil exploration. Sea food is the staple food for the residents living near the costal lines making seafood crucial in securing source of seafood to maintain the people’s lifestyle. Seafood is also consumed directly or processed into other finished goods for local and international market.
The economic value of seafood to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is significant. Seafood industry also provides employment opportunities in the process of obtaining seafood’s industrial raw materials and processing the material to finished products. Importance of seafood to the economy cannot be fully analyzed as there are both direct and indirect benefits. Some of the indirect benefits includes marketing of finished products in different market and multiplier effect created by different economic associated with sea food. Manufactures association has a special interest in seafood processing as the industry produces many products. Some of them include fish oil, fish sauce, isinglass, fish emulsion, fish glue, and fish meal among others. Policy formulation is a consultative process that analyzes potential benefits in light of threats to propose a way forward. The proposal of the government to ban offshore oil production is a land mark decision that protects sea food and the environment.
Overview of Offshore Oil Production Ban
Offshore oil production threatens millions of aquatic lives and loss of the oceans aesthetic value. According to (UNEP, 25) human, animal and plant life near water and in water bodies, is dependent on the oceans and seas, which cover about 71% of the surface of the earth and an average depth of 3.8 kilometers. With reference to the Global Biodiversity assessment report by UNEP, marine is the largest ecosystem since it provides habitats for one hundred and seventy eight thousand animal and plant species in thirty four diverse phyla. This diverse plants and animals are a source of food, energy and opportunities.
Marine oil and oil products transportation can cause unnecessary oil spillages. Wang,(27) suggest that oil transportation accounts for one-third of oil spills worldwide beside other causes like poor storage. Since oil is less dense than water, it forms a coat that insulates water against penetration of light and oxygen. This can be disastrous depending on the volume of oil spilt, the duration before sucking the oil and species of marine animal. According to Rusco (21), there is a prediction of 1000 barrels oil spill per year and 10,000 barrels in 3-4 years. This can be avoided by implementing the policy that will lead to the multiplication of aquatic animals and increase marine food products to attain food security.
According to Dotinga & Kwiatkowska (17), infrastructural developments that are required to facilitate drilling wells and transport on of offshore oil can equally bring devastating effects. This has caused destruction of beaches, coral reefs, and cliffs that could otherwise result in tourist attraction and reduction of sea wave strength. The series of canals built to transport oil has led to erosion of the sea topography. Oil drilling destroys marshland, canals, and storm buffer contributing to the damage caused by Hurricanes.
Impacts of Oil Production on Seafood
However, the petroleum resource in this ecosystem is threatening the millions and millions of lives in it. This will see its intrinsic, aesthetic value deteriorating. This will be as a result of destruction of natural habitat during the mining process. Therefore, banning all offshore extraction processes will guarantee the safety of this ecosystem. Wang, (37) suggest that oil transportation accounts for one-third of oil spills worldwide beside other causes like poor storage. Oil spills form a coat that insulates the water against penetration of light. This suffocates animals living in water. Deaths of a large number of fish and other animals reduce raw materials for some industries engaged in seafood production. A shortage of fish, which is a staple food for some families and individuals, leads to frustration as finding food become problematic. Efforts for sustained food security should consider all food sources and diversify food sources. Spills also inhibit growth of aquatic plants reducing a tourist attraction.
Potential solutions to Offshore Oil Production
Luckily, there are strategies that will counter anticipated impacts resulting from the implementation of the policy. These strategies will only work if properly implemented. Some of these strategies include encouraging inland oil mining investment, encouraging the use of alternative energy sources, fostering and supporting technological modification that minimize fuel usage and its wastage. Strategies to attract investors in the inland oil mining companies should be laid before policy implementation. These strategies will facilitate switching of companies from offshore to inland oil mining upon receiving notification of the policy. It will avoid conflict between the government and the firms involved. Appropriate communication to oil producing companies will also give them an alternative sector to invest. The incorporation of this strategy in the policy will make it better and acceptable to everybody (Rusco, 40).
There are several other alternative energy sources that are eco-friendly. They include; hydro electric power, solar energy, geothermal power and tidal energy. The public should be sensitized and encouraged to use these forms of energy, as opposed to the petroleum products. This will reduce the demand of oil hence decrease the pressure to go for offshore oil extraction. Firms should also be influenced to invest in other forms of energy to reduce environmental degradation. It will in turn reduce expenditure on environmental conservation and minimize the negative effects resulting from pollution including global warming. The amount of funds saved can be invested in agriculture hence enhance food security in the country. Reduced global warming causes an increase in agricultural production.
The government should foster research on technological modifications and inventions that minimize energy wastage. This reduces oil wastage hence reducing the demand for petroleum products. This can be achieved by starting research institutions, supporting already existing research institutions and funding research programs. The long term rewards will be a reduced demand for petroleum products, efficient utilization of energy and a reduced need for offshore oil mining. This will save the government extra costs of relocating offshore mining firms and reversing effects caused by the tragedies associated with it.
In conclusion, the ban on offshore oil production is significant to protection of seafood and aquatic environment. The US government’s effort to ensure a healthy environment proposes a policy to on how to manage the environment after consideration of the potential impacts of offshore oil exploration. Advantages of the policy include preservation of marine esthetic value, being a role model to other countries, reduction of hazards to the environment, elimination of environmental harmful infrastructure, avoidance of oil spillages and avoidance of the long lasting effect of safety defects. Modifications also can be done to better the policy. These modifications include technological modification to minimize fuel and wastage and encouraging use of alternative energy sources. This will reduce the demand of oil hence decrease the pressure on offshore oil extraction.