Eight companies currently have survey applications before the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
Environmental groups are concerned that loud sounds from seismic air guns will hurt marine life. The advocacy group Oceana released maps Tuesday showing areas where permits are being sought and where they overlap crucial marine habitat.
A spokeswoman for the International Association of Geophysical Contractors says the survey companies plan to pursue their permit applications. She says seismic testing is done safely and it makes sense for the nation to take stock of its energy reserves.