BOEM’s EIS Concludes that Seismic Under Current Regulation Does Not Significantly Impact GOM Marine Mammals

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has published a final Environmental Impact Statement for oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico. At pages 4-47 to 4-48, the EIS includes this conclusion regarding the impact of oil and gas seismic on GOM marine mammals:

“NTL 2012-JOINT-G02, ‘Implementation of Seismic Survey Mitigation Measures and Protected Species Observer Program,’ minimizes the potential of harm from seismic operations to marine mammals. These mitigations include onboard observers, airgun shut-downs for whales in the exclusion zone, ramp-up procedures, and the use of a minimum sound source. Therefore, no significant cumulative impacts to marine mammals would be expected as a result of the proposed exploration activities when added to the impacts of past, present, or reasonably foreseeable oil and gas development in the area, as well as other ongoing activities in the area.

BOEM Seeks Comment on Supplemental EIS For GOM Oil and Gas Leases

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, in the U.S. Department of Interior, has prepared a Draft Supplemental EIS for proposed OCS oil and gas Lease Sales 238, 246, and 248, which are tentatively scheduled to be held in August 2014, 2015, and 2016, respectively, in the Western Planning Area offshore the States of Texas and Louisiana.

BOEM Publishes Final EIS for GOM Lease Sales 225 and 226

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has published its Final Environmental Impact Statement for Outer Continental Shelf, Gulf of Mexico, Oil and Gas Lease Sales, Eastern Planning Area Lease Sales 225 and 226. This Final EIS provides information on the baseline conditions and potential environmental effects of oil and natural gas leasing, exploration, development, and production in the EPA. This Final EIS incorporates by reference the analysis presented in the Gulf of Mexico OCS Oil and Gas Lease Sales: 2012-2017; Western Planning Area Lease Sales 229, 233, 238, 246, and 248; Central Planning Area Lease Sales 227, 231, 235, 241, and 247, Final Environmental Impact Statement (2012-2017 WPA/CPA Multisale EIS; OCS EIS/EA BOEM 2012-019) and Gulf of Mexico OCS Oil and Gas Lease Sales: 2013-2014. This Final EIS also tiers from the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program: 2012-2017 Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.

Canadian Researchers Finding No Harm From Seismic

Researchers at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Halifax, Nova Scotia, are studying the effects of oil and gas seismic on marine life in Atlantic marine areas including the “Gully”: an underwater canyon about 150 nautical miles off Halifax, just east of Sable Island. Researchers so far have found found no significant changes in the general distribution of Gully whales during seismic explorations. These results depend in part on the accuracy and reliability of energy-company propagation models, and the researchers are still evaluating the models. The researchers are also studying seismic effects on crabs. So far, all the studied crabs have survived, with no clear damage to animals, eggs, or larvae. A Canadian government article on the study is available here.

Canadian Seismic Application Being Reviewed Again

Canada’s National Energy Board has resumed its assessment of an application for seismic testing just east of Baffin Island. The joint application was first filed by TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company, Petroleum GeoServices and Multi Klient Invest in May 2011,  It requested approval of scans from air guns to the sea floor for a period of two months each year for five years.The application was suspended when the NEB, which regulates oil and gas offshore activities in the Canadian Arctic, ruled the applicants had failed to provide feedback from three neighboring communities. In August, 2013, after meeting with members of neighboring communities, the applicants provided a document which refers to studies that show no documented cases of marine mammal mortality when exposed to oil and gas exploration surveys. The document also outlines mitigation measures, including the creation of a community liaison contact to communicate project information with local residents.

International Noise Conference Presentations Available

An international conference on The Effect of Noise on Aquatic Life was held in Budapest on August 11-16, 2013.  The poster presentations for this conference are now available online by clicking here.  Abstracts of presentations are available by clicking here.




New Book on PAM and Marine Mammal Observers

The following book is now available for pre-order: Todd, VLG, Todd, IB, Gardiner, JC, and Morrin, ECN (2014): Marine Mammal Observer and Passive Acoustic Monitoring handbook. Pelagic Publishing Ltd, UK.  Marketing material states that the “’Marine Mammal Observer and Passive Acoustic Monitoring Handbook’ is the ultimate instruction manual for mitigation measures to minimise man-made acoustical and physical disturbances to marine mammals from industrial and defence activities.” The book is available now for pre-order from the links below.

Pelagic publishing:






FWS Seeks Comments on MMPA Takes ICR

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published Federal Register notice stating that FWS will ask the Office of Management and Budget to approve an information collection under the U.S. Paperwork Reduction Act.   This information collection request includes requirements associated with specified oil and gas industry activities and their incidental taking of polar bears and Pacific walruses in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act. Before FWS sends this ICR to OMB, FWS requests public comments on it. FWS will consider any public comments on this ICR that FWS receives by December 2, 2013.

BOEM and Industry Collaborate on Humpback Whale Behavioral Response Study

Behavioural Responses of Australian Humpback Whales to Seismic Surveys is a large, four-year collaborative study investigating the effects of seismic airguns on the behavior of humpback whales during migration. This full study aims to test how humpback whales respond to seismic airguns on both the East Coast and West Coast of Australia. The project will be one of the largest, most complex and advanced Behavioral Response Studies in cetaceans ever undertaken.  Funding is being provided by the by the Joint Industry Program on E&P Sound and Marine Life and by BOEM.

Click here to read more about BRAHSS.

EU Publishes Incomplete Brief on Underwater Noise

The European Commission ‘s Science for Environmental Policy Service has prepared and published a Future Brief:  Underwater Noise.   Science for Environment Policy is a free news and information service published by the European Commission’s Directorate-General Environment, which provides the latest environmental policy relevant research findings. Future Briefs are a feature of the service, which provide  forecasts of environmental policy issues on the horizon. In addition to Future Briefs, Science for Environment Policy also publishes a weekly News Alert which is delivered by email to subscribers and provides accessible summaries of key scientific studies. The Underwater Noise Future Brief addresses seismic among other sound sources. Its quality would have been greatly improved if it had discussed some of the U.S. regulation of seismic.  It includes the following chapters: