A critique of the UK's JNCC seismic survey guidelines for minimising acoustic disturbance to marine mammals: Best practise?

TitleA critique of the UK's JNCC seismic survey guidelines for minimising acoustic disturbance to marine mammals: Best practise?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsParsons, E. C. M., Dolman S. J., Jasny M., Rose N. A., Simmonds M. P., and Wright A. J.
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume58
Pagination643-651
ISBN Number0025-326X
EndNote Rec Number729
Keywordsabundance, cetacean, cetaceans, conservation, deaths, impacts, mitigation measures, noise, ocean, oil and gas industry, Seismic surveys, sonar, Underwater noise, whales physeter-macrocephalus
Abstract

The United Kingdom's statutory conservation agency, the joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), developed guidelines in 1995 to minimise acoustic disturbance of marine mammals by oil and gas industry seismic surveys. These were the first national guidelines to be developed and have subsequently become the standard, or basis, of international mitigation measures for noise pollution during seismic surveys. However, relatively few aspects of these measures have a firm scientific basis or proven efficacy. Existing guidelines do not offer adequate protection to marine mammals, given the complex propagation of airgun pulses; the difficulty of monitoring in particular the smaller, cryptic, and/or deep-diving species, such as beaked whales and porpoises; limitations in monitoring requirements; lack of baseline data; and other biological and acoustical complications or unknowns. Current guidelines offer a 'common sense' approach to noise mitigation, but in light of recent research and ongoing concerns, they should be updated, with broader measures needed to ensure adequate species protection and to address data gaps. (c) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.