The potential exists for seismic survey operations at sea to have adverse impacts on marine mammals. The Code aims to minimise impacts through a range of required mitigation measures, while still providing for seismic survey operations to be conducted.
It builds upon the 2006 Guidelines for Minimising Acoustic Disturbance to Marine Mammals from Seismic Survey Operations, and is intended to be an interim measure (of three years’ duration) before consideration of mandatory regulations under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978.
The Code is open for adoption by any stakeholder in the marine seismic survey sector, with signatories agreeing to commit to the provisions in full. For non-signatories, the Code should be considered as industry best practice in New Zealand.
It applies to all marine seismic survey operations in New Zealand continental waters (from the coast to the outer edge of the 200nm exclusive economic zone, and includes the extended continental shelf).
A summary of the primary objectives and key features of the Code is available on this website.
A core element of the Code is the requirement for submission of a comprehensive Marine Mammal Impact Assessment to the Department of Conservation. Through this process, the potential effects of individual marine seismic survey programs on New Zealand species can be identified, and further specific mitigation measures can be discussed if required.