US President Donald Trump's administration has issued a long-stalled approval from a fisheries agency that had kept five permits for oil and gas seismic surveys off the country's southern Atlantic coast in regulatory limbo for more than three years.

But while the move represents a long-awaited step forward, other regulatory approvals remain pending, and factors such as commercial support, the government’s direction for oil and gas leasing as well as public opposition may influence whether such surveys will ultimately move forward.