Marine seismic surveys, which use loud, primarily low-frequency sound to penetrate the sea floor, are known to disturb and could harm marine life. The use of these surveys for conventional and alternative offshore energy development as well as research is expanding. Given their proliferation and potential for negative environmental impact, there is a growing need for systematic planning and operational standards to eliminate or at least minimize impacts, especially when surveys occur in sensitive areas. Mitigating immediate impacts is obviously critical, but monitoring for short- as well as long-term effects and impacts is also needed. Regulatory requirements for both mitigation and monitoring vary widely from one country or jurisdiction to another. Historically, most have focused on acute effects but share a common objective of minimizing potential adverse impacts. Specific examples in different areas are given to illustrate general approaches for predicting, minimizing, and measuring impacts for operations in essentially any marine environment. The critical elements of a robust mitigation and monitoring plan for responsibly conducting marine seismic surveys include obtaining baseline ecological data; substantial advance planning, communication, and critical review; integrated acoustic and visual monitoring during operations; and systematic analysis of results to inform future planning and mitigation.
Responsible Practices for Minimizing and Monitoring Environmental Impacts of Marine Seismic Surveys with an Emphasis on Marine Mammals
Nowacek, D.; Bröker, K.; Donovan, G.; Gailey, G.; Racca, R.; Reeves, R.; Vadenev, A.; Weller, D.; Southall, B. (2013). Responsible Practices for Minimizing and Monitoring Environmental Impacts of Marine Seismic Surveys with an Emphasis on Marine Mammals. Aquatic Mammals, 39(4), 356-377.