Date: 01 August 2012 Source: Office of the Minister of Conservation
Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson and Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley today launched the new Code of Conduct for Minimising Acoustic Disturbance to Marine Mammals from Seismic Survey Operations.
The new code is a set of operational requirements that aim to protect marine mammals from potential impacts of seismic survey work used in oil and gas exploration, seabed minerals prospecting and scientific research.
The code has been developed by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ), with input from industry stakeholders, scientific researchers, government agencies, industry marine mammal observers and environmental interest groups.
“The code represents best practice for the industry to minimise potential risks to New Zealand’s whales and dolphins,” Ms Wilkinson said. “A number of new measures have been introduced to improve on earlier guidelines, such as increasing marine mammal observer coverage during acoustic work and undertaking marine mammal impact assessments and submitting them to DOC.”
The new code also allows DOC’s Director-General to specify additional mitigation measures if necessary, and requires 24 hour passive acoustic monitoring for marine mammals, which provides the ability to estimate the direction and distance of vocalising whales and dolphins.
“This code provides world-leading standards for minimising the impact of oil and gas exploration activity on marine mammals,” said Mr Heatley.
“This is one of several Government initiatives to ensure petroleum exploration in New Zealand continues to be conducted to the highest global standards. I welcome PEPANZ as the first signatory and expect to see oil and gas operators signing up also.”
The code of conduct comes into effect today. The Government intends to use it as a mandatory standard for seismic surveying in the regulations under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf Bill (Environmental Effects) Bill.
Reuben Williams (DOC)
Ph: 027 257 2216 or +64 4 471 3139