NOAA Hearing for Gulf of Mexico EIS

Today, June 20, NOAA is holding a hearing on its work on an envronmental anlysis of the geophysical and geological activities in the Gulf of Mexico.

CRE will be making an oral presentation at the hearing  and will be summarizing the comments of other participants on this  IPD. 

Presiding Federal Officials

Jim Bennett  BOEM
Jill Lewandowski BOEM
Ben Laws NMFS

 The following are CRE’s view of some of the pertinent statements by those making presentations at the hearing:

 CRE

“If the delisting of sperm whales is not on your agenda, it should be.”

  “The International Union for Conservation of Nature explains with regard to sperm whales:

“The cause of the population reduction in the species (commercial whaling) is reversible, understood, and is not currently in operation….A peer-reviewed publication (Whitehead 2002) provides a model-based estimate of global trend that can be used to evaluate the population. the results suggest little chance that the population would meet the criteria for Endangered or for Least Concern”.

  IAGC 

  The  industry has a very comprehensive program to protect marine mammals.

 Numerous studies have concluded that seismic operations have not had adverse impacts on marine mammals.

 OCEANA

    Air guns harm marine mammals.

    Air guns leave massive acoustic footprints.

    Air guns should be phased out.

    Marine Virbroseis is a technology that should be utilized.

  NOIA   

  All seismic operations are science based.

  BOEM exaggerates the number of takes.

  BOEM is not using the best available science.

           

2 comments. Leave a Reply

  1. Anonymous

    The oil and gas industry has demonstrated the ability to operate seismic exploration activities in a manner that protects marine life. It is in the industry’s best interest to safeguard the marine environment in which we operate.
    Marine seismic exploration is carefully regulated by the federal government and managed by the operator to avoid impacting marine animals.
    Note BOEM’s statement: “Overall, within the CPA [Gulf of Mexico Central Planning Area], there is a long-standing and well-developed Outer Continental Shelf Program (more than 50 years); there are no data to suggest that activities from the preexisting OCS Program are significantly impacting marine mammal populations.”(1)
    Four decades of world-wide seismic surveying activity and scientific research related chiefly to marine mammals (e.g. http://www.soundandmarinelife.org) have shown no evidence that sound from seismic airgun activities has resulted in physical or auditory injury to any marine mammal species. Likewise, there is no peer-reviewed scientific evidence demonstrating biologically significant adverse impacts on marine mammal populations. Nevertheless, the industry implements mitigation measures to further reduce the negligible risk of harm to marine mammals. Mitigation measures are standard operating procedures designed to minimize impacts to marine life. Industry continually monitors the effectiveness of the mitigation strategies it employs and funds research to better understand interactions between E&P operations and marine mammals.
    Academic research studies and operations monitoring programs designed to assess the potential impacts from seismic surveys have not demonstrated biologically significant adverse impacts on marine mammal populations.
    (1) Page 4-231 in document available online at http://www.boem.gov/Environmental-Stewardship/Environmental-Assessment/NEPA/nepaprocess.aspx .

  2. GTH

    In reference to Sperm Whales. One of the arguments in the recent GoM Sperm Whale petition is the potential adverse reaction sperm whales may have to man-made sounds. The authors, WildEarth Guardians in Denver Colorado, do not mention the body of scientific peer-reviewed literature on how toothed whales are able to decrease their own hearing sensitivity (e.g.: Nachtigall, P.E., Supin, A.Ya. (2008) A false killer whale adjusts its hearing when it echolocates. Journal or Experimental Biology v. 211, p.1714-1718., and references therein).
    This was broadly publicized by reporter William J. Broad in the New York Times on July 17, 2012 (“Whales Show Signs of Coping with Loud Noises”) based on research performed at the University of Hawaii. Excerpt: “Scientists there are studying how dolphins and toothed whales hear. In nature, the mammals emit sounds and listen for returning echoes in a sensory behavior known as echolocation. In captivity, scientists taught the creatures to wear suction-cup electrodes, which revealed the patterns of brainwaves involved in hearing. The discovery came in steps. First, Dr. Nachtigall and his team found the animals could adjust their hearing in response to their own sounds of echolocation, mainly sharp clicks. The scientists then wondered if the animals could also protect their ears from incoming blasts”.
    “Carl Safina, president of the Blue Ocean Institute, a conservation group in Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., called the discovery a potential window into what sea mammals may already do on some occasions to protect their hearing. “I’ve sometimes wondered why high intensity sounds don’t cause problems all the time,” he said in an interview. “Maybe it’s that, once the animals hear something very loud, they can adjust their hearing — dial it down and protect themselves.”
    (Blue Ocean Institute works to create a more knowledgeable constituency for conservation. It is led by conservation pioneer and MacArthur fellow, Dr. Carl Safina).

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